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'Incredible hypocrisy' of Mail web betting site 15/07/2007
Nick Mathiason

The Daily Mail gambling website failed to offer advice for vulnerable gamblers and uses young people to promote games, sparking a volley of criticism from a unique alliance of church leaders and gaming firms who have accused the paper of 'incredible hypocrisy'.

Just days after the paper trumpeted its role in killing off the introduction to Britain of Vegas-style supercasinos as a 'Very Moral Victory', The Observer has discovered that the paper's website, where punters can seemingly sign up with minimum security checks to play internet poker, roulette and slot-machine games, failed to adhere to guidelines set out by GamCare and Responsibility in Gambling Trust, organisations which offer help and advice to addicts.

The Observer's discovery prompted a rushed statement from Cashcade, the firm which runs, that it would rectify the omission. 'We are grateful that the absence of player protection references on this site has been brought to our attention. This was an oversight which has been immediately corrected.' While it is not a legal requirement to prominently feature responsible gambling advice, it is considered best practice and most mainstream sites do so.

Daily Mail
Daily Mail
Concern from church groups and anger from gambling chiefs still remains. It focuses on the Mail's use of young people to promote its games and that another firm within its gambling business, Cassava Enterprises, is based offshore in Gibraltar and pays negligible tax to the UK treasury.

'On the front page the Mail uses pictures of women who don't look like they're out of their teens. There are offers for children's parties. This is incredible hyprocrisy,' said one senior gambling figure.

Captain Matt Spencer of The Salvation Army UK and Ireland, says: 'Any responsible online gambling site should have clearly identified age restrictions to ensure that children under 18 are protected. Every site should also include prominent directions to organisations which can be of help to people who accumulate large debts, or who realise that they are developing an addiction.'

Requests for comments from Mail editor Paul Dacre were referred to the managing editor's office but no statement has been forthcoming.

There is no love lost between the Mail and the gambling industry after its prolonged campaign against casinos.

The prospect of the introduction of Vegas-style supercasinos in Britain is now remote after Gordon Brown announced a review into the issue.