Church leaders have urged to Government to do a U-turn on plans to increase the maximum prizes on slot machines, including end-of-the-pier-style “crane grabs”.
Bishops accuse the Department for Culture of caving in to pressure from the gambling industry.
They say doubling stakes and jackpots for Category C “One Armed Bandits” and even greater increases for Category D “crane grab” machines puts profits ahead of protecting the vulnerable.
Under the plans, Category C stake and prize limits would double to £1 and £70 respectively with rises in stake and prize limits on Category D machines to £1 and £50 respectively.
The Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council said: “We make the general point that in the current recession, while it is tempting to justify socially harmful policies by pointing to their economic benefits, it is wrong that people who are liable to engage in problem gambling should be made to pay the price of protecting businesses from financial pressures.”
The church said it was joined by the Methodist Church, the Quakers, the Salvation Army and the Evangelical Alliance in expressing concerns.
The protest comes after the Government revealed earlier this month that the gambling industry is set to be forced to help fund helplines and treatment centres for addicted gamblers.