In the news: Mark Griffiths

October 29, 2004

Mark Griffiths backs the Bill to modernise the gambling industry but says people must be aware of the dangers.

On a Saturday night, Nottingham Trent University's Mark Griffiths can often be found in his local casino. He is there not to study his fellow gamblers, but to have a flutter himself - even though he is aware the house always wins in the long run.

As Europe's only professor of gambling studies, Dr Griffiths supports the controversial gambling Bill, which aims to modernise laws governing the industry and could result in dozens of new casinos opening across Britain.

"Most of our gaming laws are now almost 40 years out of date," he says.

"They could not have predicted the technological advances that have revolutionised the industry, or changing social attitudes to gambling." He is quick to point out the safeguards in the Bill to help address an "inevitable" rise in gambling addicts. A paper he wrote for the British Medical Journal analysed the effects of different forms of gambling on people's health. One conclusion is that not enough is being done to protect children.

The Bill will reduce the number of slot machines in high-street premises - but not arcades. Dr Griffiths says: "These machines may be low stakes and have small jackpots, but they are exactly the kind of high-frequency gambling that encourages addictive behaviour." The industry and the Government should fund a media campaign to raise awareness of the potential dangers of gambling, he says. "There is nothing wrong with allowing more gambling as long as the infrastructure is in place to help those who develop a problem," he adds.

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