Blair in Favour of Super Casino's - Tuesday 12th of April 2005

Large casino complexes do not pose a threat to British society,
despite concerted opposition to their establishment under the new Gambling Act,
said Prime Minister Tony Blair.

He told BBC television that he did not believe building so-called "super casinos" would create problem gambling, adding that the newly-formed Gambling Commission would advise on the best way forward.

"The point is, is this type of larger casino, which is a big leisure complex, properly run, is it a disaster for the country? I don't think so," Blair told interviewer Jeremy Paxman.

"I think that if you look at the evidence of where these large scale casinos have been introduced, it doesn't bear out the opponents case at all, and I might just point out to you that until, certainly (until) the newspapers started running a campaign on this, virtually everyone was in favour of these proposals."

"People think you can go down the street now and gamble. You can gamble your mortgage away on putting money on a horse or a, you know, take a bet, you can take a bet in the election and do it."

The government ran into serious difficulties when trying to get the Act through parliament. It initially forecast the construction of at least 40 Las Vegas-style casino complexes around the country.

However, opposition from backbench Labour MPs and community groups worried about an increase in gambling addiction saw that number pruned to eight in each of the three large, medium and small categories established under the law.

Further embarrassment followed when the Conservative Party threatened to scupper the legislation entirely in the last week of the parliamentary session unless more concessions were made.

This meant that only one large scale casino will be built as a "prototype" to gauge the impact on its eventual location.

But government sources said at the time that a clause in the law would allow for the introduction of more large casinos subject to a vote in parliament.

They were adamant that they would push this through at the earliest opportunity, claiming it was impossible to make any comparisons when there was only one centre in operation.

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