In the United Kingdom, beer joints, clubs and similar establishments are allowed to install slot machines in their premises for adult customers to place their bets on, and gamble with their money.
Gambling rules have been relaxed recently by the government regulators as they increased the minimum bets from 50p to one pound with the prize doubling from 35 to 70 pounds.
Times Online reports: ‘The relaxation of gambling rules is expected to provide a boost to the industry in the downturn by generating an extra 20% in revenue. The treasury will also benefit from an additional 27 million pounds a year in VAT. However critics fear that it will increase the levels of gambling addiction’.
The report added: There were questions last night about the morality of encouraging people to gamble more during recession. Anna Drew, a spokeswoman for the Methodist Church, said ‘We would be concerned that any increase in stakes and prize limits might be likely to increase amount that people risk and the amount that they would want to chase. People do chase their losses on slot machines – they pump money in to get back the 5, 10, or 20 pounds have already spent. ’Britain has around a third of a million problem gamblers according to GameCare, and we wouldn’t want that to increase’.
There are about 80 thousand slot machines in pubs in Britain. About 14% of the people had used them in the past year. One third of the users are under 24 years old with men more likely to play than women, according to The Gambling Commission.
It was also estimated that the gaming machines generate revenue of 10 billion pounds with about 8.2 billion pounds going to prizes paid to winners.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been criticized for condoning policies that promotes greed and love of money by some religious sectors. But Brown emphasized that it was a necessary step ‘if the economy is not moving’.
A spokesman of the Department of Culture, Media and Sports said that the Gambling Commission would impose tough codes of practice to protect the consumer. ‘The protection of children and vulnerable people is at the heart of the Gambling Act and this remains our priority’ the spokesman said