It is "lazy thinking" to imagine a regional casino will provide a major boost to local economies, Conservatives claimed yesterday.

The Tories accused the Government of a "whispering campaign" to increase the number of casinos built.

But Hugo Swire, the shadow Culture Secretary, said the Conservatives were worried just one regional casino would lead to more gambling addicts.

The comments place the national party, led by David Cameron, at odds with local Tory-led councils including Coventry and Birmingham.

They have both backed calls for the Government to issue more than one regional casino licence.

Coventry hopes to open a casino in a 90,000 sq ft building at the Ricoh Arena, home of Coventry City. Birmingham is backing proposals from Solihull, another Tory-led council, for a £250 million project at the NEC.

The Government-appointed Casino Advisory Panel will decide where the regional casino should go, but Ministers are currently planning to issue only one licence.

Mr Swire said: "We opposed the Government's proposals for 40 resort-style casinos, and forced concessions to allow a pilot of only one. "Yet constantly we hear from the Department and from Ministers themselves a whispering campaign to increase these numbers.

"A nod from the Department here, a wink from [Culture Minister] Richard Caborn there, and the intention is clear - Ministers are, by sleight of hand, determined to increase the numbers of regional casinos in this country."

He added: "We must have more information about what the regenerative benefits of regional casinos will be. It is not enough to suggest that a host of regional casinos will be the panacea for many run down towns and cities. This is lazy thinking on the part of the Government, and it fails to recognise the realities and challenges of urban regeneration."

The Government had still not revealed how it would judge whether the regional casino would be a success, he said.

"It is shameful that even though we are shortly to have the announcement on where the regional casino and the 16 large and small casinos will be sited, we have no idea how the effects of the pilot will be judged.

"There are as yet no benchmarks to judge success or failure, no guidelines as to what will constitute a damaging impact and what will constitute a further increase in the numbers allowed."

Mr Squire was contradicted by an academic specialising in gambling.

Professor Peter Collins, Director of the University of Salford's Centre for the Study of Gambling, said: "Re-search over some 20 years from the USA, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa has repeatedly concluded that by confining gambling to dedicated gambling venues and ensuring that effective public awareness campaigns are undertaken, you are likely to see a decrease in the number of problem gamblers, as well as a decrease in overall spending on gambling as a whole."