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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 February 2008, 17:53 GMT
Q&A: Super-casino plan ditched
Manchester was chosen last year as the surprise location of the UK's first "super-casino". The government has now decided to axe the plan.

Why the change of heart?

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said there was "no consensus" that a regional - or super - casino was needed to boost regeneration in east Manchester. He cited problem gambling as a worry, while another government report suggested setting up alternative projects such as museums, theatres, a shopping centre or sports arena.

Was the U-turn a surprise?

No. Shortly after becoming prime minister last year, Gordon Brown promised a review of the policy. It has been widely thought for some time that the super-casino project would be scrapped.

And how are people in Manchester taking the news?

Not very well. The city council has said it may contest the government's decision through a judicial review. Graham Stringer, the Labour MP for Manchester Blackley, called the government's decision "capricious" and "arbitrary".

So what had been the plan?

The Gambling Act 2005 allows for three new types of casino, the most controversial of which is the super-casino.

The main variation between the three types - the super-casino, large casino and small casino - is the size of the customer area allowed, the number of slot machines and size of the jackpot.

The super-casino was to have a minimum customer area of 5,000 sq m and up to 1,250 unlimited-jackpot slot machines.

The government also expected the super-casino to have hotels, conference facilities, restaurants, bars and areas for live entertainment.

Las Vegas, in the US - the gambling capital of the world - has 30 such casino and hotel complexes, according to the Good Gambling guide website.

Was just one super-casino planned?

Originally the government said there would be up to 40 super-casinos but this number was cut - firstly to eight, and then to just one - in the face of heavy opposition.

Some 27 local authorities applied for the right to play host to the super-casino.

The independent Casino Advisory Panel (CAP) whittled the applicants down to a shortlist of eight.

On the shortlist were Blackpool, Wembley Stadium, Cardiff, Glasgow, the former Millennium Dome in the London borough of Greenwich, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.

But the Wembley bid was later withdrawn after local opposition.

Manchester was eventually chosen in January last year, beating Blackpool, which many had regarded as the favourite.

How was the contract for the successful super-casino decided?

The CAP - whose five members include experts in planning and regeneration - had to take several factors into account before giving its final recommendations.

These included the need for regeneration in the area, which was likely to have high levels of unemployment and social deprivation.

The panel also had to take account of the new casino's social impact and ensure that it was not harmful, following concerns that people living close to proposed sites may have been vulnerable to gambling addiction.

What about the large and small casinos?

Mr Burnham has announced that these will go ahead as planned, unlike the super-casino.

The CAP made recommendations for eight large and eight small casinos, from an original shortlist of 31, taking into consideration social impact and regeneration issues.

Large casinos will have a minimum area of 1,000 sq m and up to 150 slot machines with a maximum jackpot of 4,000.

The small casinos will have a minimum customer area of 750 sq m, up to 80 slot machines and a jackpot of 4,000.

What is the government doing about problem gambling?

Mr Burnham said casinos would be prohibited from opening more than 18 hours a day, obliged to provide "non-gambling" areas, and barred from handing out free drinks to customers. He also insisted the UK would have the "toughest regulatory controls for gambling in the world".



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