Tuesday, January 30, 2007

 

Super Casinos a Dangerous Step Too far


So it seems Manchester has got the nod over Blackpool and the Dome for the first super-casino licence. Funny, I thought the rationale was to regenerate marginal areas so I was a bit gob-smacked that ailing Blackpool should not make it or Greenwich either. This is not to say that Beswick in east Manchester won't value 2500 new jobs and the inflow of hundreds of millions of cash into the local economy which the development will bring. And it's a relief too that the Dome did not win a prize over which John Prescott was so over-enthusiastically lobbied by billionaire owner Philip Anshutz. But am I alone in feeling very uneasy about all this?

Addiction: Evidence from USA, the home of the super-casino and Australia where gambling was deregulated in the nineties suggest- or should I say 'prove'?- that increased access to gambling always leads to more compulsive gamblers developing. And more often than not it's the working class have-nots who end up losing their homes and having their families broken up. Are we really shore we want to inject this malign element into our urban life?

Crime: Experience in the USA in places like Las Vegas and Atlanta City show organized crime bosses sees gambling as their area of interest and they usually manage to get involved. Now all this could have changed, but the association is so strong that I'd like more reassurance than I've had to date.

Symbolic Significance: I've never been to Las Vegas, but everything I've read and heard about the place suggests it's close to the moral nadir of American life: gambling, prostitution, crime and the rest. I am profoundly troubled that it is the party of which I have been a member for over thirty years which is introducing a Las Vegas super-casino into our national life. Truly this party seems to have sold itself totally to Mammon. The casino will have an area of 5000 square metres-the size of a football pitch- and will house up to 1,250 unlimited jackpot slot machines. How unutterably depressing and what a retrograde step. Even the US has banned Internet gambling but now on top of that for us: this!

The government have decreed that this first step is only an exploratory pilot scheme and that it will be closely monitored for adverse impact on the local community. I just hope not just the promised overseeing social impact commission in Manchester but also we, the voters, will hold the government to this pledge.

Comments:
The third most deprived area of Britain. What does it need? A casino! Brilliant, more genius from the Labour, the people's Party(!).

In the words of Mr T, "I pity the fool" that loses his money in this temple of stupidity. And most of them will be poor people who can't afford to lose it. Shame on them.
 
Michael
For once I agree with you completely.
 
It had to happen sometime.

Didn't Anshutz pay them enough? Or are they keen to show Yates of the Yard that Labour can't be bought(as least not while the heat is on).
 
New Labour has always hated poor old Blackpool.
 
Why does Michael, usually the upholder of free market, laissez-faire policies in such (economic) matters, see fit to arbitrarily restrict the "right" to gamble?

Just curious.
 
Personally I don't. But then my idea of Government would have no (de-facto) regard for the welfare of the people. If individuals owned land and wished to build a casino on this land, then providing it didn't infringe on the rights of others land(noise, crime, pollution and so on), then they should be allowed to build it. People would gamble as much as they like, and there would be more casinos. The people who would lose money are the 21st century equivalent of the weakest of the species. They would either learn not waste their money, or starve(or some half way state of poverty). For the most part, the world would be a better place.

My understanding is that Mr Blair's Government does not share those values. It believes in protecting what they label "vulnerable" people. They believe that people need to be guided, and educated into making the right choices. It is for this reason that this policy is destructive(in their terms). In short, I simply find it laughable that a party claiming to be socialist(at least nominally) can support a measure that is going to make rich people very rich, and poor people(and their families) even poorer.
 
On balance I disagree Skipper and believe that a £250M regeneration that is 93% non casino and 7% casino will be not a bad thing for East Manchester and beyond. The comparisons with long established ex-mafia resorts in the USA are not reasonable IMO. The sterotyping of the expected losers is also well off. More likely to have been correct in Blackpool.
 
Bill Jones,

Las Vegas and Atlanta City??? Just where is Atlanta city? Did you mean Atlantic City in New Jersey or Atlanta? Secondly, DO NOT take the extremes as being the norm in America. For instance, you say everything you have read and heard about Las Vegas is what American culture is. Your ignorance is overwhelming. I love when you Brits who have never even been to the United States have all the insight and knowledge of who we are or how we operate. You have never been to Las Vegas.. Do you know how many top notch shows and concerts,comedians, attractions that would take pages to list are there? Just walking from hotel/casino to the next is exciting for anyone of any age. It is not just gambling and prostitution. You could spend a week on the strip and not encounter one prostitute.

Also, realize that if your city is building this monster casino, it will generate so much revenue for the city. Be accountable for your actions and have some self control. Casinos can and are usually very social and fun. Why not let human beings decide wheather or not it suits them? Everyone loves to point the finger and blame someone else. Being responsible and having some self control should keep you (us) middle class from becoming such compulsive gamblers that we lose everything. If that does happen, you can only blame your self. Why should the people who can control themselves an enjoy such an establishment without such serious repercussions be kept away and not have because of the minority that cannot?
 
James
Actually I've visited the USA several times, and whilst I've been inside a casino in Nevada I've never been to Las Vegas. I note that you don't challenge the points regarding addiction and crime both of which, I assume you agree- are associated with Las Vegas and Atlantic City. I don't want that kind of thing in the city where I live but before you call me a killjoy, journalist surveys have shown a fair number of people living in Beswick don't either.
 
I agree with you on the points of crime that naturally surrounds those establishments. To compare Las Vegas which is an entity of it's own and uncomparable to any other city in the world, I do see that putting a casino in a very deprived and what seems to be a crime ridden area, certainly a spike in crime would be an accurate assessment. It is just that there are so many people and security(if you will) in Vegas, that crime is off the strip. Addiction is a personal thing as I noted, if your in a community where people are that susceptible to addiction than I suppose it is a bad idea after all. I just didn't care for your stereotyping of Las Vegas, American casinos, and our culture. However, you are entitled to your views and I respect that.
So, do you think that casinos in general should not exist at all? They are purely evil and only bring corruption and induce poverty? Do you think it is possible to have a casino in a decent neighborhood, and not have such backlash?
 
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I would like to go to Las Vegas and play in a high roller casino but it’s an expensive thing to do, even more so when you live in the UK. I have to resort to playing a casino game online instead which lets me win the money but I miss out on the atmosphere, but still save £600 on the 14 hour flight. So until I win big all I’ll do is play online casino dreaming of Las Vegas.
 
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