A former boss of one of the country's biggest bookmakers has said that the UK government has a "troubling" relationship with the gambling industry and is doing nothing to curb addiction because it nets the Treasury millions in taxes.
Fintan Drury, who was chairman of the bookmaker until 2010, has criticised ministers in allowing the growth of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), often described as the "crack cocaine" of gambling where people can lose up to £18,000 an hour on what he calls "glorified slot machines".
He has supported calls to make the maximum stake £10 or lower, down from its current maximum of £100.
Writing in The Times, Drury said: "Despite irrefutable evidence of how much damage is being done to society, they support each other in a manner that facilitates the addictive tendencies of hundreds of thousands of citizens. FOBTs 'work the streets' and while government and the industry profit from them they stand accused of being their pimps.
"Can George Osborne argue that government is earning legitimate tax revenues from a form of gambling that has the potential to allow an individual to lose £18,000 on a glorified slot machine in one hour?"
In 2014, the Treasury received £562m in tax from machine games, although only some of this was from FOBTs.
In February, the Gambling Commission ruled that it had identified a "number of serious failings" from the Irish betting company including exploiting one suspected gambling addict until he lost his job, home and access to his children.
Liberal Democrat peer Lord Clement-Jones will present a proposal to limit the maximum FOBT stake to £2 a game to rid "addictive roulette" from cities and stop the concentration of betting shops in deprived areas. He said: "It is time for the government to act".
However a government spokesman told the paper that since April 2015, tougher gambling controls had been introduced, which it would continue to monitor.