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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 May 2006, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Stranraer scheme strikes it lucky
Stranraer sea front
Stranraer seafront could prosper under casino proposals
Stranraer has been selected as Scotland's only potential site for smaller scale casino plans.

The ferry town made it to the government's shortlist of 31 possible large and small gambling developments across the United Kingdom.

Proposals in Renfrewshire and Falkirk did not make it through to the final stages of the selection process.

Further examination of proposals will take place in the autumn before a final list of 16 smaller casinos is agreed.

Stranraer emerged as the favourite site in Dumfries and Galloway after beating off competition from Gretna.

Members of the region's licensing board believe the attraction could increase tourism from Northern Ireland, which is getting no casino licences.

The decision was welcomed by Dumfries and Galloway Labour MP Russell Brown.

"The case for Stranraer is particularly strong given the regeneration work that will be done on the waterfront in the next few years," he said.

"Having a small casino as a centre piece could really kick start that development.

Clearly there will be concerns about the social effects of casinos since gambling can unquestionably become addictive
Alasdair Morgan
South of Scotland MSP

"Obviously Stranraer's ferry link to Northern Ireland means it has a huge market to tap into."

Mr Brown called on the public to make its opinions known to the Casino Advisory Panel.

"A casino would certainly help to boost the regional economy but it is important that such a development should have the support of local people," he said.

South of Scotland SNP MSP Alasdair Morgan said there was "no question" Stranraer could benefit in terms of jobs.

"There is certainly far too little variety of employment in Stranraer at present, and given the town's geographical location, commuting for most simply isn't an option," he said.

"Clearly there will be concerns about the social effects of casinos since gambling can unquestionably become addictive," he added.

Stiff competition

However, Mr Morgan said that since the decision had been made at Westminster to give out casino licences the town would be better to bid for one than let them go elsewhere.

Council convener and Stranraer member Tommy Sloan believes it could be a major boost for the area.

"This is terrific news for the region," he said.

"This is only a small part of the jigsaw in the regeneration plans for Stranraer and the waterfront area.

"This is not just about a stand-alone casino bid - it is a major element in what will be the regeneration of Stranraer and its surroundings."

Stranraer still faces stiff competition from both England and Wales for the licence.

Brighton, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Southampton, Swansea and Wolverhampton are among the other contenders.

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