A Fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton this week to discuss reform of the gaming laws is being sponsored by Sun International’s Sol Kerzner – the South Africa gambling giant.
A few days ago the Culture Secretary – Tessa Jowell - angered UK casino operators by ruling that so-called “super slot machines” offering £1m prizes will only be allowed in supercasinos which are almost the exclusive preserve of the big operators like Sun International, MGM Mirage and Harrah.
This is contrary to the conclusions of an all-party Committee of MPs, which suggested that a more gradual relaxation of gambling laws would avoid some of the problems of addictive behaviour seen in other countries like Australia. American firms have spent the last two years lobbying the government which seems to have been swayed by the prospect of multi million £ investments.
With the news that permission has been granted for a supercasino at the Millennium Dome, it also seems doubtful that the Committee’s recommendation that they should be limited to regeneration areas like Great Yarmouth and Bournemouth will be ignored. Casinos are not limited to presenting a contrtibution to regeneration solely in deprived areas. It is a distinct possibility that they may help to bridge the £70m funding gap for the new Brighton Centre development.
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