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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 February 2008, 19:33 GMT
Casino opens amongst controversy
Poker player with full house
A poker room and live music are on offer at the new casino
A 5m casino has opened its doors to gamblers in east Kent, amid criticism from church leaders.

The G Casino, at the Westwood Cross Retail Park, near Broadstairs, has created 100 jobs and replaces another casino elsewhere in the town.

It is equipped with 12 gaming tables, 20 slot machines and a poker room, and will have weekly live entertainment.

But Bishop of Dover Rev Stephen Venner said he feared for society if it relied on casinos to regenerate areas.

'Extremely worried'

The casino is in the heart of a shopping centre, next to bars and a cinema.

The church said placing it in such a site was tempting people who never gambled before to give it a go.

"Quite often, these casinos are being built in the poorest parts, that the argument is it brings regeneration.," the bishop said.

"Well, it may bring 100 jobs, and that's not be sneezed at. But if the regeneration of our communities is going to be based on things like an increase in gambling, then I'm extremely worried about the way our society is going."

The company said the focus of the casino was entertainment and leisure, and that it was not a high stakes gambling den.

Venue director Peter Donnelly the venue would try and help people it thought were spending too much money on gambling.

"Generally we would help by first spotting that someone does have a problem and dealing with it perhaps by some counselling or discussions. If it was deemed it was perhaps getting beyond their control, then we would ultimately exclude."

He promised "a whole new entertainment experience for Kent's residents" with a variety of leisure opportunities also on offer.

"We have regular low-stakes tables and learn to play sessions, so whether you have never been to a casino before or are a big player, there is something for everyone," he said.

Thursday night's launch will include fire throwers, magicians and live music.

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