Page last updated at 01:16 GMT, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 02:16 UK

Church opposes casino development

Roulette wheel
Stranraer was one of 16 sites approved for a casino development

A Church of Scotland presbytery has decided to oppose plans for a casino in south west Scotland.

The UK Government recently confirmed Stranraer as one of 16 sites where such gambling developments could take place - the only one agreed for Scotland.

The Wigtown and Stranraer presbytery said it feels casinos can bring a "variety of social problems".

Dumfries and Galloway Council has promised wide consultation before it will allow any such plans proceed.

The local presbytery has now decided to add its opposition to those of some residents in the Stranraer area.

There is no question that everyone in the community wants to see a thriving economy in Stranraer
Rev Alex Currie

Machars minister Rev Alex Currie said: "There is no question that everyone in the community wants to see a thriving economy in Stranraer.

"However, we feel that it is our duty as part of the Christian community in Wigtownshire to state publicly that gambling should not be regarded as the tool that will bring our community the economic regeneration it desires.

"Studies conducted by the Church of Scotland have shown that gambling is associated with a variety of social problems, and we would prefer to see economic development without these consequences."

Full consultation

He confirmed the church will now fight against any plans to build a casino as part of wider regeneration projects in the town.

"That is why we have agreed to oppose any plans to establish a casino in Stranraer as part of the waterfront regeneration project," he said.

Supporters have argued that a casino could help revitalise the economy of the ferry port.

Dumfries and Galloway Council has promised full consultation before any final decision is taken to proceed.

The small-scale casino licence allows for up to 80 gaming machines with a maximum jackpot of 4,000.

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