Casino plan an insult to Black Country, says MP

Plans for a casino in the Black Country to boost regeneration are an „insult“, according to a local MP.

Ken Purchase (Lab Wolverhampton North East) said it was wrong to base local economic strategy on „a game of pitch and toss“.

He spoke out after the Government revealed it was giving the green light to 16 new casinos across the country, including in Solihull and Wolverhampton.

Wolverhampton Council hopes to build a „racino“ at Wolverhampton racecourse, while Soli-hull is hoping to build a casino at the NEC, although they have little control over where the attractions are built.

The Government this week scrapped plans for a massive supercasino in Manchester, following a concerted campaign from the Conservatives, religious figures and sections of the media.

However, Labour traditionalists such as Mr Purchase have also expressed consistent misgivings about expanding the gambling industry, arguing that casinos make huge profits while working people who use them become poorer.

Ministers have portrayed building casinos as a means of attracting investment into an area and creating jobs. Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Purchase praised Culture Secretary Andy Burnham for ruling out a supercasino.

He said: „I congratulate the Secretary of State on rowing back on these proposals.

„In Wolverhampton, there is already ample opportunity for gambling, with a raft of betting shops, bingo halls … and racecourses and so on „Indeed, masses of illicit cash are already generated through prostitution and drugs.

„It is the ultimate insult to people in Wolverhampton to talk about regeneration on the back of a game of pitch and toss in a casino.

„That should be out with the lexicon of Labour policies.“

Mr Burnham said local councillors could decide whether or not to press ahead with a casino.

He said: „The issue is entirely a matter for local decision making.“

He added: „I would hope that any local authority would involve local people before making a final decision on what are, as he rightly says, very important matters.“

Wolverhampton’s casino would have up to 80 slot machines with a maximum payout of GBP 4,000.

Solihull is planning to build a „large“ casino offering 150 slot machines, also with a maximum jackpot of GBP 4,000.