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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 May 2007, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
Blair supports two super-casinos
Artist's impression of the proposed Manchester casino
The panel recommended a super-casino be built in east Manchester
Tony Blair has told MPs both Manchester and Blackpool should get super-casinos, if there was sufficient investment.

In January Manchester was named the preferred site for such an attraction at the expense of Blackpool, whose supporters said it would benefit more.

Peers rejected plans for 17 casinos, including one super-casino, in March.

But at prime minister's questions, Mr Blair said the government hoped to bring forward proposals "very shortly" to introduce regional casinos.

When Manchester was recommended by the Casino Advisory Panel, it was much to the shock of two frontrunners - Blackpool and the site of the former Millennium Dome in London.

Trial plan

Both houses of Parliament have already passed the Gambling Act - paving the way for the new casinos - into law with the plan for one trial super-casino.

But peers rejected the Gambling Order backing the decision to build the super-casino in Manchester, by just three votes.

If the investment is there and able to be done, let's do both of them
Tony Blair

On Wednesday, Labour MP Graham Stringer, who represents Manchester Blackley, urged the government to ensure the casinos were built.

Mr Blair said: "Personally I have never seen the reason why we should have Blackpool and Manchester pitted against each other," he said at question time.

"If the investment is there and able to be done, let's do both of them."

He said only Conservative intervention had jeopardised the Manchester casino, whereas Labour's original plan would have allowed super-casinos at both Manchester and Blackpool.

Initially the government had said there would be up to 40 regional casinos, but that was scaled down - first to eight, then to one - in the face of strong opposition and concerns about gambling addiction.

Manchester's backers remain confident they will get the UK's first super-casino, but main rival Blackpool believes it has been given an opportunity to alter the decision on the attraction's location.

Some critics had argued that Blackpool was a more suitable venue, with greater need for a super-casino, while others said it could increase problem gambling in a deprived part of Manchester.

But supporters of the Manchester bid said the chosen area in the east of the city was in need of the investment and renewal the project would bring.


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