The head of a Birmingham-based gaming watchdog has broken with official Government policy by admitting that super-casinos are bound to lead to an increase in gambling addiction.
Peter Dean, the chairman of the Gambling Commission, appeared to contradict Ministerial assurances that vast American-style gaming centres could be introduced in Britain without harmful effects.
His comments are bound to raise questions about remarks by Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, who last year assured MPs that the gaming industry would "operate in awe of the Gambling Commission".
Mrs Jowell convinced a sceptical House of Commons to pass the Gambling Bill, which permits slot machines offering £1 million prizes, by insisting that measures would be taken to make sure that super-casinos did not create more gambling addicts.
Mr Dean told a national newspaper that he took a liberal attitude to gambling and that £1 million slot machines were "no big deal." It was unrealistic to expect the Gambling Commission to reverse the trend of problem gamblers - estimated at 300,000 addicts across Britain, he said.
Mr Dean added: "We should not regulate onerously for the sake of being butch. I think that is absolutely unnecessary and inappropriate."
There would be a proportionate increase in gambling addiction following the introduction of super-casinos, Mr Dean admitted. MPs opposed to the liberalisation of gambling were guilty of party politics, he believed.
Mr Dean's remarks could cause fresh problems at Birmingham City Council, where members have agreed in principle to lobby the Government for a super-casino licence.
However, a substantial minority remain opposed to super-casinos which they fear will lead to more gambling problems.