Bookmakers win big as MPs call for gambling laws to be relaxed

SHARES in leading gambling firms rose yesterday after MPs said strict restrictions on casinos and high-street betting operations should be watered down.

Ladbrokes, Rank Group and William Hill all received a boost following the publication of the culture, media and sport select committee’s report, which recommended allowing more high-stakes gambling machines into shops and giving local councils the flexibility to award casino licenses.

Betting shops and casinos are currently allowed just four high-stakes machines offering prizes of up to £500 but the report suggests that casinos should be allowed to have up to 20.

Other recommendations including bringing duties on bingo into line with other forms of gambling and adjusting tax levels on online gambling in the hope of attracting offshore operations back to the UK.

“While we recognise the need to be aware of the harm caused by problem gambling, we believe that there is considerable scope to reduce and simplify the current burden of regulation and to devolve decision-making to a more local level,” said committee chairman John Whittingdale.