Plans to set up a local lottery for West Norfolk have been passed, despite concerns over the potential risk of problem gambling.
The proposal, which is meant to help raise funds for local good causes, was backed at a West Norfolk Council meeting last Thursday.
But council leader Brian Long apologised during the debate, after being criticised for appearing to suggest that participating charities would benefit from players developing an addiction.
He said: “I appreciate people have ethical issues with what they see as gambling but I don’t see this scheme making a gambling addict a worse gambling addict. If they do become addicted local organisations will do well by it.”
But Charles Joyce urged him to clarify his remarks, saying: “That’s just setting up the council as a drug dealer and I know that’s not what he meant.
“I support the idea of raising money for good causes but the council has it in itself to raise far more money than through this without going outside at all.”
Labour’s Gary McGuinness said: “I can’t support a motion that suggests people becoming addicted to gambling is good for West Norfolk.”
And Conservative backbencher Thomas Smith said he could not back the idea because of his Methodist faith.
He said: “Gambling is addictive and you don’t know what the first exposure is going to be.”
But Mr Long said he believes the chances of addiction being caused by the game were low and the benefits of it for participating causes far outweighed the potential risks.
He added: “The borough has done well from the national lottery. It’s time for it to do well from a local lottery where the money will be spent in this borough.”
Officials have claimed the scheme could generate between £5,000 and £15,000 a year for charities.