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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 April 2006, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Super-casino bid by 27 councils
Middlehaven casino plan
Teesside has planned for a 180m super casino development
The right to build the UK's first Las Vegas-style 'super-casino' will be fought out between 27 local authorities, it has been revealed.

Only one can host the "regional casino" and the Casino Advisory Panel is "sifting and thinning" entries, which include Glasgow, Cardiff and Blackpool.

Forty-one other local authorities applied for one of the eight large and eight small casinos.

Several groups warn a super casino will increase gambling addiction.

And some Opposition MPs have urged the government to pilot one regional casino so its regenerative and social impact could be assessed.

Shadow culture secretary Hugo Swire said the number of regional casinos should not be increased to fill a "black hole" in the government's finances.

'Difficult decisions'

Professor Stephen Crow, chairman of the advisory panel, said drawing up a shortlist could take six to eight weeks.

CASINO PLANS
Casino card table
Regional casino - minimum customer area of 5,000 sq m
Regional casino can have 1,250 unlimited jackpot slot machines
Large casinos -minimum customer area of 1,000 sq m
Large casinos can have up to 150 slot machines with maximum jackpot of 4,000
Small casinos - minimum customer area of 750 sq m
Small casinos can have up to 80 slot machines with maximum jackpot of 4,000
One regional and 8 large casinos can offer bingo
All three types of casino can offer betting

"These proposals represent a lot of hard work by the people that have prepared them, and, very often, a lot of difficult decision-making also," he said.

"They all deserve nothing less than fair and thorough examination."

He added that after the initial evaluation, selected proposals will be given further examination over the summer months.

Blackpool has been seen as the front-runner in the battle to win the super casino licence.

Several authorities have applied for more than one type of casino and said they will settle for a lower category to secure a site in their area.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has said the large and small casinos should be built in a range of locations, including inner city centres, edge of town developments and seaside resorts.

However, plans for a super casino have received stiff opposition from several groups concerned about its impact.

Major Bill Cochrane, of the Salvation Army, said: "The Salvation Army believes that wherever the first super casino is built, it is likely to lead to a rise in problem gambling, which is far too high a price to pay for economic regeneration.

Image of proposed Cardiff casino
Cardiff's bid has the super casino as part of its Olympics sports village

"Research from other countries shows that super casinos can lead to a range of social problems, including increased debt, loss of employment, family breakdown and increased crime."

He added the group remained unconvinced about the amount of research by local authorities on the potential social impact of such a casino.

Shadow culture secretary Hugo Swire said the impact of a super casino on problem gambling and its social effects were unknown.

"This is why the government must stick to its promise, to a pilot project of one regional casino, so that we can properly assess both the regenerative and the social impacts of regional casinos.

"We discovered in the Budget that Gordon Brown expects to get an extra 95m over three years from just one super casino, so it doesn't take a mathematician to work out that another 8 or 10 casinos would go a long way to filling Gordon's black hole. "





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