The Tories plan a shake-up of gambling laws after the number of betting addicts soared by 25 per cent.
The proposals include a ban on internet gamblers using credit cards and stricter rules on advertising for casinos, bookmakers and betting websites. Foreign internet firms could not operate sites in the UK unless they could prove self-regulation.
The call comes after addiction charities warned Britain’s gambling problem could get worse as the economy shrinks.
Nearly 38,000 people called addiction hotline Gamcare last year compared with 30,000 the previous year. Average debt soared from GBP 13,800 to GBP 17,500. Seven per cent owed more than GBP 100,000.
Shadow gambling minister Tobias Ellwood said a Tory government would reverse what it says are the most dangerous parts of the Gambling Act 2005. „Gaming must be seen as a form of entertainment where you’re likely to lose money, rather than win,“ he said.
But the key proposal, to increase the number of slot machines in bingo halls and arcades, is likely to raise concern.
Only four basic gaming machines, or category 3, are currently allowed on each premises with a payout of GBP 1, and a maximum prize of GBP 500. The Tories want to allow more category 3 machines up to one fifth of the total number and to raise the stakes to GBP 2, increasing the maximum payout.
Mr Ellwood claimed this would encourage customers to continue using slot machines rather than turn to more addictive fixed-odds terminals.