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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 March, 2004, 06:04 GMT
Warning over traditional gambling
Gamblers
Many oppose the rise of US-style casinos
The government's reform of gambling legislation could harm pubs, arcades and bingo halls, a report has said.

In addition to closures new laws could boost numbers of gambling addicts, the study from marketing company the Henley Centre says.

The draft Gambling Bill, currently in its committee stage, will see the numbers of casinos rise hugely.

The study also suggested gambling through the internet, interactive TV and mobile phones will also rocket.

The number of casinos will almost double from 122 to 241, including five resort-style venues such as a rejuvenated Blackpool, the study said.

But the gains for casinos could spell closure for over a thousand pubs, its authors warn.

The amount spent on betting and gaming in the UK will jump from 8.5 billion a year to 10.6bn by 2010 with the new laws, according to the report which was commissioned by The British Amusement Catering Trade Association.

But while that could mean a 2.1bn rise in casino spending, there could also be a 1bn reduction in traditional gambling.

There are currently around 400,000 problem gamblers - or 0.8% of the population, the study says.

It warns that while the number could rise to 500,000 by 2010 without the bill, its introduction would take the figure to 700,000.

Ray Stone, a director of The Henley Centre, said: "The national figures hide a variety of local impacts which, although they could be positive in term of new gambling venues, could also be negative in terms of closures of bingo clubs and pubs and their associated implications.

"It is vital the government takes into account the full social and economic impact of deregulation covering big business, small business, local issues, employment, problem gambling and, of course, tax."

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: "We believe local businesses will benefit from the introduction of more casinos."

And he added: "The number of problem gamblers is relatively low and we will be encouraging the gambling industry to ensure it remains that way."




SEE ALSO:
Vegas-style casinos on the cards
19 Nov 03  |  Politics
The gambling habits of Britons
24 Jul 02  |  UK News


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