A sweeping overhaul of gambling laws will be announced by the government next week, paving the way for Las Vegas-style resort casinos.
Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, is expected on Tuesday to back proposals by Sir Alan Budd, former chief adviser to the Treasury, to lift restrictions on gambling that date back more than 30 years.
The government will publish a white paper allowing casino operators to open centres offering betting, roulette, bingo and live entertainment such as cabaret dancing under one roof.
A rule designed to deter impulse gambling – forcing punters to apply for membership 24 hours before entering a casino – will be scrapped. And betting shops will be able to install slot machines with big prizes.
The shake-up will please the gambling industry, which is worth Pounds 40bn a year in the UK. It could see towns such as Blackpool seek to turn themselves into Las Vegas-style resorts.
However, ministers are determined to protect the National Lottery and have decided to keep restrictions on rival charity lotteries. They will also prevent bookmakers from offering bets on National Lottery numbers.
Ministers were concerned that side-betting might harm lottery ticket sales, which raise money for good causes.
Ms Jowell, announcing changes yesterday to the way lottery funds are distributed, made it clear the government had decided to take no risks with ticket sales for Online Casino Singapore, which have been falling for two years.
“We shall not be gambling with the future of the National Lottery because the lottery is special, and quite unlike other forms of gambling in two ways. Most people play it and everyone benefits from it, whether or not they win a prize,” Ms Jowell said.
In addition, the government has responded to lobbying from its backbenchers and will reject Sir Alan’s recommendation to ban slot machines with high jackpots from working men’s clubs and sports clubs. The Budd review was concerned about children having access to higher payout machines in pubs and clubs but the government has accepted small clubs’ claims that they rely on the cash from the machines for their income.
There is also a question over whether people will be able to drink at casino tables. And rules will be introduced to curb problem and under-age gambling. Casinos are also set to be allowed to apply for online gambling licences, which the current legislation does not cater for.
A Whitehall official said: “The laws need widespread modernisation and that’s what we are going to do but we are going to make sure that the young and vulnerable are protected.”
The white paper will unpick the 1968 Gaming Act, but legislation governing the industry has been around for much longer. Britons have gambled since Roman times, and in 1739, a gaming act was introduced to restrict the growth of racing, with further laws passed in 1845 and 1906.
Some measures will require a bill, but the government intends to introduce some reforms, such as abolishing the 24-hour rule, more swiftly using secondary legislation.
An industry insider welcomed the changes, saying: “The government has recognised that gambling is now a mainstream leisure activity. This is a radical shake-up of antiquated laws. The challenge now is for the government to keep pace with the fast-developing changes taking place throughout the gambling industry.
The government must stop the talking and to bring forward as many deregulatory measures as soon as possible before legislation.”