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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 December, 2003, 07:55 GMT
Public 'opposes gambling shake-up'
A sign in Las Vegas
Las Vegas glitz could be on the way to the UK
The proposed shake-up in the gambling laws is opposed by more than 90% of the public, according to a survey.

The Salvation Army, which commissioned the poll, is using the figures to call on the government to rethink the legislation which would lead to the creation of Las Vegas-style "super casinos".

Blackpool wants to transform itself into the UK's first casino resort, with the council believing it will lead to a transformation in the town's fortunes.

But the survey said 93% of people believe there are already enough opportunities to gamble and the law should not be relaxed.

Major Bill Cochrane, from the Salvation Army, denied towns like Blackpool would benefit if they became gambling Meccas.

'Unseen addiction'

He said: "Despite talk of regeneration with resort casinos it seems the only people who will truly benefit from the proposed legislation is the gambling industry, which stands to make substantial profits, and the government through increased tax revenue.

"In many ways gambling is an unseen addiction but where it exists it can cause havoc in people's lives and tear families apart.

"The theme running through our research is that the government is out of step with the public on many issues raised in the draft Gambling Bill."

If you increase access to addictive activities, whether it be gambling, drugs or drinking, the level of abuse and addiction rises
Dr Adrian Bonner, Salvation Army
MPs and lords have visited Blackpool to look at the plans, which would see the creation of five hotel casinos along the Golden Mile.

The proposals are the central plank of the town's "masterplan" to stem a decline in visitor number.

The survey found several of the specific elements of the proposals are opposed by the public.

Children would be allowed to play low value fruit machines but 82% say under-18s should not be able to gamble on them.

The same number say allowing punters to drink alcohol while gambling will make them lose more money.

Allowing gambling on credit cards puts more people at risk of running up debts, said 94% of respondents.

More than half - 56% - do not want a casino on their doorstep - a figure that rises to 64% among women.

Study call

Dr Adrian Bonner, the Salvation Army's head of addiction services, said: "Research has shown time and time again that if you increase access to addictive activities, whether it be gambling, drugs or drinking, the level of abuse and addiction rises.

"We want to see the government commission substantial research on the likely impact of the liberalisation before it is decided upon and enacted."

The charity commissioned the poll to include in its submission to the government's consultation process, which ends on Wednesday.

It was compiled from a survey of 973 adults between 28 and 30 November.


SEE ALSO:
Vegas-style casinos on the cards
19 Nov 03  |  Politics
MPs scrutinise casino plans
08 Dec 03  |  Lancashire
Anti-gamblers say 'no' to casinos
11 Jun 03  |  Lancashire
Blackpool: Bank or bust?
26 Mar 02  |  UK News


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