90 new casinos approved in two years

Ninety new casinos, the equivalent of ten supercasinos, have been approved in the UK in the last two years, according to minutes from the Gambling Commission.

Tory spokesman Hugo Swire said the revelation was evidence of a „casino con trick“ by ministers after the number of actual supercasinos initially allowed was restricted to just one, according to reports.

A shake-up of gambling laws could increase problem gambling, the Government minister in charge of the issue has conceded.

The Gambling Act, passed last year, relaxes some restrictions on the industry, including allowing the first ever Las Vegas-style supercasino in the UK.

The venue for that establishment is expected to be announced this week amid claims from critics that the vulnerable will be hit by the move.

Asked by a Channel 4’s Dispatches programme whether the legislation could lead to a rise in problem gambling, Richard Caborn said: „Absolutely.“

But he insisted that „if there were increases we would be able to arrest that.“

Mr. Swire said it was a „staggering“ admission that contradicted assurances given by Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell.

He told the Observer: „It also completely undermines the supposed aims of their gambling legislation.“

A spokeswoman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said Mr Caborn had simply acknowledged that a risk existed of a rise in problem gambling.

That was why the department was preparing a base line study to use as a comparison to check for any changes, she said.

„If there is a rise there are measures in the Act to deal with that,“ she said, adding that the risk of a rise would be greater without the new legislation, which also includes a number of extra safeguards.

Ms Jowell has insisted it provides „the most protective legislation in the world“ and that she would move to shut down casinos if it was shown that they were increasing problem gambling.

Regarding the 90 new casinos, Mr Swire told Sky News‘ Sunday Live the Government were trying to get new casinos approved „through the back door“.

He said: „Now the Government, through the back door, are trying to increase the number, something we suspected they would always try to do.“

The Conservatives had agreed to let one supercasino go ahead as an experiment but Mr Swire said they would oppose any more.

Mr Swire said: „We, in Parliament, have got an agreement with the Government.

„If the Government want to increase the number they should come to Parliament to do that in the public eye and not do it through the back door, which is clearly what they are intending.“