Gambling could be an "enhancement to the quality of life" if it was brought into the mainstream, a Government Minister said yesterday.
Richard Caborn, Minister for Sport and Gambling, said the majority of adults who enjoyed gambling should be allowed to bet in a well-regulated environment.
However, his comments drew criticism from anti-gaming groups, who claimed that the Government should draw more attention to the possible negative consequences of new relaxed gaming laws.
Mr Caborn was speaking at the official opening of the Gambling Commission's new Birmingham city centre headquarters.
He said: "Seventy-four per cent of the nation has gambled. The vast majority of adults want to drink and gamble, and as long as you do not abuse it, it can be an enhancement of the quality of life.
"That is why it can be brought into the mainstream."
Mr Caborn said that casino operators and internet gaming sites would have to adhere by the Gambling Commissions rules.
The body regulates gambling by keeping crime out of the industry, by ensuring that it is conducted fairly and openly, and by protecting children and vulnerable people.
Mr Caborn said: "The responsible part of the industry wants good regulations. They know the three principles and it is in their long term interests to do what is necessary.
"Those who want to make a quick buck will not be there for very long in a sustainable way. They will become unstuck, and the Gambling Commission will act with the full support of the Government."
Capt Matt Spencer, press officer for the Salvation Army, said the Government had to monitor gambling in the months after the introduction of the country's first super casino, which will house unlimited jackpot gaming machines.
He said: "It would seem that the hope and expectation on the part of the Government and local authorities seeking licences is increasing, particularly in economic terms.
"But as far as we are concerned, in the UK context this still has to be proved, particularly with regard to problem gambling.
"There has not been enough emphasis on preparing for any possible negative consequences of these new laws.
"We would like to see a rigorous evaluation on the effects of a new casino."
About 200 employees will be based in the Gambling Commission's new offices on Victoria Square by the autumn.
The High Holborn office of the Government body closed in May and some workers had already been stationed in Birmingham since March.
The Commission will regulate all gambling Britain other than The National Lottery and spread betting.
It is one of the first public bodies to move out of London as part of the government's Lyons Review on the relocation of public bodies.
The Commission's chairman Peter Dean said: "Birmingham was the clear front-runner in our search for new headquarters.
"Our offices, in the very heart of the city, have been set up on time and within budget, and will help us perform our duties effectively in a modern environment."
Former chief executive of Birmingham city council Sir Michael Lyons, who is the acting chairman of the Audit Commission and author of the Lyons Review, said: "I am very pleased to see this come to fruition. The Commission and its staff deserve a warm welcome to the city.
"Having a second influential regulator in the city is good news for Birmingham and provides real evidence of the Government meeting its target to move business out of London."