The UK government has announced that fruit slot machines are to be banned from about 6,000 take-away shops, mini-cab offices and other unlicensed premises where children might gather, prompting a drop in the share values of publicly traded UK gambling companies.
In addition to the ban on fruit machines, small casinos will not be allowed to run bingo games and there will be a £1,250 cap on slot machine prizes in "regional" gambling centres. All casinos will be required to set aside "chill-out" non-gambling rooms.
Tessa Jowell, the Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, said: "We propose giving adults additional choice where we can also protect children and vulnerable players."
As part of plans to "modernise" gambling laws, ministers intend to allow Las Vegas-style resort casinos, the biggest of which will have slot machines offering unlimited cash prizes.
Legislation expected next year will mark the biggest overhaul of the law since casino restrictions were introduced in 1968.
Gambling company shares dropped in value after the government announced tougher controls aimed at protecting youngsters and vulnerable gamblers.
John Kelly, chairman of the privately owned Gala casinos group, which owns 30 small casinos, said he was dismayed by the proposals, which would give overseas companies added advantages. He went on to say that the government was misguided.
Investors were also disappointed by the details, which were contained in the Government's response to the cross-party Joint Scrutiny Committee report on the draft Gambling Bill. Stanley Leisure fell 30.5 to 446p, William Hill dropped 17 to 520p and rival Rank, which runs 34 Grosvenor casinos and the Mecca bingo halls, tumbled 18.75 to 285.5p.