Gamblers will be able to bet more and win bigger prizes on slot machines in pubs, clubs and amusement arcades after successful lobbying of the Government by the gaming industry.
Prizes will double from £35 to £70 and the maximum stake will rise from 50p to £1, the second rise in two years, under the plan authorised by Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary.
The relaxation of gambling rules is expected to provide a boost to the industry in the downturn by generating an extra 20 per cent in revenue. The Treasury will also benefit from an additional £27million a year in VAT. However, critics fear that it will increase levels of gambling addiction.
Ministers were originally going to raise the maximum stake to 60p and the prize limit to £60 but ministers were told by the gambling industry that this would not be enough to reinvigorate the market.
There were questions last night about the morality of encouraging people to gamble more during a recession.
It must be that old-fashioned son-of-the-manse Old Labour morality I hear so much about these days. I didn't think it possible to despise this lot any more, but they retain the capacity to surprise. I wonder how the payback money's being routed to Party funds ?