Middlesbrough casino hopes back on track

Hopes of winning a multi million pound large casino development for Middlesbrough are back on track.

Confusion has surrounded the future of the Government’s plans for a supercasino and 16 other large and small casinos since the House of Lords voted against them in April.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown also questioned last week if a supercasino was the right vehicle to spark regeneration of an area.

Now Culture Secretary James Purnell has given a clear indication the Government will introduce new legislation to allow the eight large and eight small casinos to proceed. They include a large casino in Middlesbrough and a small casino in Scarborough.

Further consideration will be given to the supercasino, which controversially had been proposed for Manchester.

Middlesbrough Council, which sees a large casino aiding the ongoing regeneration, has welcomed the Culture Secretary’s statement

Mr Purnell in a written statement to MPs, said the Government had reflected on the debates in both the Commons and Lords and there was a clear consensus across all parties the 16 large and small casinos should be awarded to the authorities identified by the Casino Advisory Panel.

He pointed out that local elections had been held since Parliament debated the issue. Political control in some councils had changed and some individual councillors involved in taking decisions could also be different.

“Against this backdrop, I have decided to write to the authorities concerned to ask them to confirm their continued desire to license a new casino.

“I am sure that both Houses will wish to take account of a renewed commitment from the areas concerned when the time comes to consider this matter again. If any of the authorities have had a change of heart, I will not include them in the new legislation,” said Mr Purnell.

A Middlesbrough Council spokesman said: “We are still of the same view that a casino would help in the ongoing regeneration of Middlesbrough.

“We also believe our partnership with Gamcare, which will afford protection and support to people who might be vulnerable, is a particularly strong feature of our bid.”

The council envisage a large casino – with up to 150 gaming machines with jackpots of GBP 4,000 – could mean a GBP 10m investment and up to 300 jobs.