Prime Minister reconsiders Las Vegas-style casino plans

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is reflecting on plans to build a Las Vegas-style supercasino in Manchester, his spokesman said on Thursday, after Brown sparked fury among casino supporters by backing away from the proposal.

Brown told parliament on Wednesday that there may be better ways to encourage economic growth in the northern English city than building a gambling centre and a government source told Reuters the supercasino plan was close to being shelved. „What we are moving into now is a period of reflection and review,“ Brown’s spokesman told reporters. „We’ll need to consider the issues the prime minister raised.“

The spokesman said plans to build 16 smaller casinos would be respected. „There are no suggestions of changes in the locations of the 16, the prime minister is happy with policy in relation to the 16 (smaller casinos),“ he said. Since his comments, Brown has held talks with representatives from Manchester, the spokesman said, including members of parliament for the area who were infuriated by the prime minister’s comments.

Manchester unexpectedly won a competition to host the only supercasino under Britain’s controversial casino expansion plans in January. The project was expected to generate 2,700 jobs through its 5,000 sqm of gaming floors and bars and in surrounding cinemas and hotels.

But in March politicians, led by church leaders in the upper House of Lords, rejected plans to build the Manchester casino, following months of campaigning by anti-addiction campaigners.

Overseas casino operators invested millions of dollars in planning and lobbying in Britain. Potential bidders to run the Manchester casino included US operators Las Vegas Sands and Harrah’s and British Ladbrokes and Rank.