Casino benefits are „optimistic“

Plans to boost Blackpool with a Las Vegas-style casino are flawed, an independent report claims.

Regeneration consultants said building the UK‘s only „super casino“ in the town could damage the economy rather than create jobs and investment.

Blackpool Council described the report as „inaccurate“, saying there were clear benefits for the resort.

The government is yet to decide where the super casino will be built, though the town is thought to be a favourite.

Blackpool Council has been backed in its bid for the licence by the North West Development Agency as the town which would reap the greatest economic benefit from the casino.

But a report by Hall Aitken disputes the figures, claiming estimates of the economic benefits are „optimistic and potentially misleading“.

The study said that many of the jobs created would go to migrant workers, profits are more likely to filter out of the local economy and the number of problem gamblers in the area would increase.

It cites the example of Atlantic City, a run down US seaside resort in the 1980s where a large influx of casinos did not regenerate the city as expected.

Councillor Roy Fisher, leader of the council, pointed out that 45 local authorities were battling for the „regeneration prize“ of a regional casino licence.

Panel’s report

He said thousands of well-paid jobs would be created for local people in areas such as construction, managerial, and hospitality.

„A regional casino would be like a grain of sand making a pearl – it would start the process of creating something much bigger and better,“ said Mr Fisher.

„Blackpool is preparing its detailed bid for the government and all of that data will be available after the submission.

„Until then we would reiterate that we believe a regional casino is absolutely right for Blackpool and will be fighting hard to try and ensure that Blackpool is the winner in this race.“

The independent panel is expected to deliver its report to government in December and a decision will follow early in 2007.