Towns get cold feet over Labour plans for casinos

Labour’s plans for a gambling revolution are in ruins in the wake of Gordon Brown’s dramatic decision to axe plans for Britain’s first supercasino.

Those councils awarded licences for smaller casinos have been asked if they still want them by Culture Secretary James Purnell.

But only four of the 16 say they will definitely go ahead with the plans, the Daily Mail can reveal.

Plans for Manchester’s supercasino were dropped amid concerns it would lead to a surge in gambling addiction and crime.

Whitehall sources have confirmed the scheme is ‚pretty much dead in the water‘.

The decision prompted an outcry from local Labour MPs, who had hoped the GBP 200million investment would be a boost to the city’s deprived eastern district. The Prime Minister has now launched a review to determine if other forms of regeneration would be better for such areas.

The move has triggered widespread confusion among the councils that were given the green light for smaller venues.

Eight large casinos, 15,000 sq ft in size and offering 150 machines with GBP 4,000 jackpots, were planned for Leeds, Hull, Middlesbrough, Solihull, Great Yarmouth, Southampton, Milton Keynes and Newham in East London.

A further eight medium- sized casinos, measuring 7,500 sq ft and containing 80 large jackpot machines, were scheduled for Skegness, Bath, Stranraer, Luton, Scarborough, Swansea, Torbay and Wolverhampton.

Of the 16, only Leeds, Milton Keynes, Hull and Torbay said they would definitely go ahead, without-further local consultation. Southampton, Scarborough and Solihull said they would put the decision out to consultation again.

In Wolverhampton, councillors will vote on the issue again, and Great Yarmouth says it will reconsider if a more attractive regeneration package is on offer, as the Government has hinted. The other councils did not comment.

Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‚It is clear that it is not just Manchester that is in a state of total confusion after the Government’s hasty U-turn.

‚Where do the councils who planned to license one of the 16 smaller casinos stand? Some are ploughing ahead but others are clearly getting cold feet.

‚The Government needs to give a much clearer lead as to whether it wishes to encourage the growth of casinos, albeit at a slower pace, or is really looking to kill off all new casinos.‘