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All bets are off as Brown decides against gambling on supercasino

12th July
As reported by the Times
Gordon Brown killed plans for a supercasino in Britain yesterday, provoking anger in Manchester and ending a six-year attempt to liberalise gambling that cost the taxpayer and industry millions of pounds.

The Prime Minister told MPs that he would consider whether there were “better ways” of improving poor areas, rejecting the case made by Tony Blair that casino expansion would bring jobs and money to deprived locations.

Government officials said that Mr Brown would still put before Parliament plans for 16 smaller casinos, which are likely to pass without objections. They are less politically contentious, in part, because they will not contain the unlimited-stake, unlimited-prize slot machines, and Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have indicated they would vote for such plans.

The Government’s casino policy was thrown into turmoil in March when the order authorising a supercasino in Manchester, along with the 16 smaller casinos, was voted down by the House of Lords by three votes, having been passed by MPs by 24.

Mr Brown said: “This is an issue on which there is no consensus found in the two Houses of Parliament. And it is an issue now subject to reflection over the next few months.

“In September we will have a report that will look at gambling in our country the incidence and prevalence of it and the social effects of it.

“I hope that during these summer months we can look at whether regeneration in the areas for the supercasinos may be a better way of meeting their economic and social needs than the creation of supercasinos.”

Millions of pounds of public money have gone into Mr Blair’s attempts to change gambling policy. The six short-listed councils to run the supercasino spent up to £200,000 each on their bids, and the Casino Advisory Panel, which made the selection, cost £400,000.

Mr Stringer, a former government whip, said that he was surprised and shocked by the decision. “For the Prime Minister to side with the Lords over the Commons is surprising,” he said. “I think it is a weak decision to go back on a decision arrived at by an independent panel and confirmed by the panel. I just don’t think it’s acceptable.”

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