Protest group fights casino bid

During the event, religious leaders, businessmen, councillors and members of the public voiced their opposition to the proposals for a Las-Vegas style gambling Mecca, which could be built at Meadowhall or Bramall Lane.

About 60 people had gathered for the two-hour meeting at Victoria Hall, Norfolk Street, which was organised by Green Party councillor Jillian Creasy, where the environmental, social and moral issues against the casino were raised.

Bishop of Sheffield Jack Nicholls, speaking on behalf of the city’s Christian churches, said: „We are most concerned about people who can least afford it suffering the most from gambling.

„It would be easy to label those arguing against the casino as crackpot religious people telling others what to do but there are other people who have no religion at all who are just as opposed.“

He added: „Sheffield is a city with a conscience where people are determined to narrow the gap between rich and poor – but a super casino will dehumanise people.“

Other Christians and Muslims raised moral arguments against gambling.

But Australian ex-pat Robert Krause, who has been living in Sheffield for two years, told of his personal experience of the damage which can result from gambling addiction.

He said an uncle once owned a penthouse flat worth a million Australian dollars but gambled his fortune away and is now having to survive on a state pension, while a friend committed suicide over gambling debts.

Mr Krause, who used to gamble, said he gave up because of what happened, and after experiencing heavy losses himself.

He added: „With problem gamblers the Government has to pick up the pieces by providing them with benefits or subsidising their housing. In Sheffield this could cost up to £1 million a week.“

Financial adviser Sidney Cordle claimed a super casino would attract „the wrong kind of people“ to surrounding streets.

„Things like prostitution and strip joints are attracted to areas where there is gambling. We have to fight the casino to make sure it never comes to Sheffield,“ he said.

Engineering firm managing director Kenneth Torres, a member of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, also spoke out against the plans.

Green Party Coun Bernard Little, whose Central ward includes Bramall Lane, warned: „A casino will bring yet more traffic into the city where the air quality is already poorer than what it should be.“

Although the meeting was open to the public nobody spoke in favour of the scheme.