Anti-gambling and addiction agencies have welcomed the news that gambling firms that do not meet UK regulatory standards will be banned from advertising in the UK.
Around 1,000 gambling websites based overseas will be affected. Littlewoodscasino.com, Betfred Casino and Interpoker.com are among those which will be subject to the ban when it comes into force in September 2007.
The UK government's Culture Secretary, James Purnell, said that protecting the public from sites operating without the country's "strict standards" was a "priority".
Broadcasters and publishers breaching the rules could face fines or prison. The announcement is something of a u-turn in New Labour's laissez faire stance.
Church groups working with vulnerable communities and persons also welcomed the change of direction. Alison Jackson, Secretary for Parliamentary and Political Affairs at the Methodist Church, said that international agreement was the next step forward.
She declared: “We welcome this announcement and the tough line the Government is taking. Internet gambling is growing fast and there is a high risk for people playing online of becoming addicted to gambling."
Ms Jackson explained: "Play is continuous and repetitive; it takes place in your own home without any outside distractions, and stakes are made by credit card, making it easy to lose track of how much you have lost."
She continued: “We support the Government's wish to get international agreement in the regulation of Internet gambling; this move should contribute to that. While we do not want to see more gambling advertising, such sites will continue to operate and be accessed by people in the UK. They should be properly regulated, which is why we hope that other jurisdictions will follow the example of the Isle of Man who have tightened their own regulations to a standard that enables them to beat this ban, and therefore advertise in the UK.”
Church Action on Poverty is another agency which has criticised so-called supercasinos and a lax internet gambling regime.