In the UK, gamblers will be able to bet more and win bigger prizes playing land-based slot machines in pubs, clubs and amusement arcades after successful lobbying of the Government by the gaming industry.
Under plans authorised by Culture Secretary Andrew Burnham yesterday and approved by the UK Gambling Commission, prizes will double from £35 to £70 while the maximum stake will rise from 50 pence to one pound.
This is the second rise in two years and is expected to provide a boost to the industry during the current economic downturn by generating an extra 20 percent in revenues. According to a piece in The Times newspaper, the Treasury could also benefit from an additional £27 million a year in taxes although critics fear that the move will increase levels of gambling addiction.
Dr Emanuel Moran, a specialist adviser on pathological gambling for the Royal College of Psychiatrists, wrote an opinion piece for The Times criticising the Government’s decision by calling fruit machhines ‘one of the most addictive forms of gambling’.
“Of all the different types of gambling, it is fruit machines that act as a ‘learning device’ where people get hooked on the idea of gambling,” wrote Moran.
“Once they are addicted, they often move on to other kinds, particularly online gambling and try to recoup their losses.”
However, the Commission stated that increasing stakes to one pound ‘would not increase problem gambling’ if appropriate controls were put in place. The Department For Culture, Media And Sport (DCMS) revealed that the Commission would enforce tough codes of practice to protect consumers.
“The protection of children and vulnerable people is at the heart of the Gambling Act and this remains our priority,” said a spokesperson for the DCMS.
“To increase the prizes is definitely not in line with the stated purpose of the Gambling Act; to limit problem gambling,” wrote Moran.