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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 July, 2004, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Limit Vegas-style casinos, say MPs
Roulette
Casinos will have stricter controls
The UK risks being over-run by Las Vegas-style casinos under proposed new gambling laws, MPs have warned.

The joint scrutiny committee says steps must be taken to "avoid proliferation" of such venues.

It says the answer is to create huge "leisure destination" casinos in major towns and cities, with sports and arts facilities to attract non-gamblers.

The government will now consider the recommendations before publishing a bill, expected in the Autumn.

Regeneration

The report, by the joint committee on the draft gambling bill, backs plans for Las Vegas-style slot machines which offer unlimited prize money only being allowed in the biggest resort casinos, with a limit of 1,250 machines permitted in each.

But it says more needs to be done to limit the number of premises with such machines - and to ensure any new developments boost run-down areas.

Committee chairman John Greenaway said: "We are concerned that the government's proposals do not do give sufficient emphasis to the need to secure significant regeneration benefits from the development of regional casinos."

He said the size limit of casinos should be increased to include more leisure facilities for non-gamblers.

"We believe it would also limit the number of such casinos likely to be developed.

"Instead of as many as 40-45 leisure destination casinos which we were told in evidence could be developed under the government's proposals, we think that our revised plans might reduce this to perhaps 20-25, though we do not set a specific target."

Sun City

Existing casinos and smaller venues should also be allowed to offer higher stakes and prizes, to avoid handing a competitive advantage to the new resort casinos, the report says.

Kerzner International, which used to own South Africa's Sun City, has already struck a deal to build resort casinos on the site of London's Millennium Dome.

It has also signed agreements to build resort casinos in Manchester and Glasgow.

But Blackpool - the town expected to benefit most from de-regulation - has so far missed out.

Culture secretary Tessa Jowell has said she wants to introduce a bill in the current session of parliament and gain Royal Assent before the next general election.

Thursday's report urges the government to introduce a bill "at the earliest opportunity".




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