Report to pressure Gordon Brown on casinos

Gordon Brown is likely to come under pressure this week to rule out any chance of a super-casino being built.

A Government-commissioned British Gambling Prevalence Study is likely to show that almost a million gamblers have a severe addiction.

This compares with the last study, commissioned by the Gaming Board in 1999, which found that about 300,000 gamblers had a „problem“.

The survey also found that 33 million adults, or 72 per cent of the population, gambled in some form.

The Daily Telegraph understands that ministers have already commissioned another prevalence study in three years, as concern about problem gambling grows.

Since that first study in 1999, there has been no material increase in the number of casinos, and a small decline in the numbers of bingo halls.

Yet the opportunities to gamble have increased tenfold, particularly with the introduction of online betting, and a sharp rise in the number of touch-screen roulette games, in which punters can bet up to GBP 300 a minute.

Charities providing advice and help in addressing the social impact of gambling are busier than ever.

Industry executives were yesterday reported to be worried about whether the report could prompt a new crackdown on gambling.

Neil Goulden, the chief executive of GalaCoral, told an industry conference in July that „the prevalence study due out in September requires careful handling“.

Last night Downing Street said Mr Brown was not expected to comment on the report, to be released on Wednesday.

However, industry sources said the findings were likely to put pressure on him to rule out plans for a regional or super-casino. The Gambling Commission declined to comment.

Mr Brown let it be known that he disproves of gambling when he levied a surprise GBP 100 million tax on casinos in his last Budget as Chancellor in March.

Soon afterwards, plans for 17 casinos were thrown out by Parliament. Mr Brown then ordered a review of plans for a super casino in Manchester.