Casino proposals in the balance

The future of the new super-casino recommended for Manchester and the 16 smaller casinos throughout the country hangs in the balance today with votes in both houses deciding their fate.

Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, has remained confident and strong in her belief that the casino proposals, recommended by the Casino Advisory Panel (CAP) in January, will be approved.

“The order will be laid with plans for 17 casino locations. Ministers believe there is a compelling case for Parliament to accept the order in full,” said a spokesman for Ms Jowell’s department.

Facing mounting criticism over the last months, Ms Jowell has cannily placed the proposal of Manchester as the location of the new super-casino along with the 16 other smaller casinos planned throughout the country. This essentially means the MP’s and Lords will be voting on an all or nothing deal, leaving many of the 83 Labour rebels who signed a parliamentary motion expressing “surprise and regret” at the choice of Manchester over Blackpool with a tough decision to make.

Many will have casinos planned for their own constituency which they would lose should the vote go against the proposals and that is something many MP’s may not want to risk, despite their dismay and any strength of opposition over the choice of Manchester as the site for the new super-casino. It is also expected that many labour rebels will abstain from voting, fearing a backlash ahead of the crucial elections to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.

The government has also been accused of attempting to dissuade supporters of Blackpool from voting against the order by dangling a multi-million pound carrot in the form of a regeneration package planned for the seaside town.

Ms Jowell has also warned that should the proposals be rejected, there is “no Plan B” in place, putting the whole arrival of the new casinos in jeopardy. She has also pointed out that 7,500 new jobs are at stake, with 2,000 of those generated by the new super-casino.

The destiny of the proposals will take place in the House of Lords where peers will vote to either completely reject the plans or to urge the government to refer the matter to a joint committee. If the Lords vote against the proposals, it will be only the third time in 10,000 orders since the Second World War that an order has been rejected. The vote will then move to the House of Commons, where government sources remain quietly confident that the vote will just about scrape over the line.

Editor, Jackpot.co.uk - 2007-03-28 11:43:46




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