High court dismisses casino challenge

The High Court has dismissed a challenge by the British Casino Association (BCA) against the government’s plans to develop 17 new casinos across Britain, including the UK’s first Las Vegas-style super-casino.

The BCA, which represents more than 90 per cent of the UK’s land-based casinos, criticised the way the government, and in particular the culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, have developed the proposals for the new casinos in line with the Gambling Act 2005.

Michael Beloff QC, lawyer for the BCA, claims that existing casinos could lose up to £120 million in profits each year, forcing some casinos to close.

However, Mr Justice Langstaff ruled that the challenge brought forward by the BCA was unsuccessful on all accounts.

"My conclusion is that each point, whether taken separately or together, fails,” said Mr Langstaff.

Naturally, the government were delighted with the outcome.

"I welcome the judgment which has dismissed BCA's case on all grounds and found that our policy was fairly and properly made,” said the Sports Minister Richard Caborn.

"We will continue to get on with the job of implementing the Gambling Act by September 1 and putting in place significant new safeguards for children and other vulnerable people which it contains."

However, the BCA were keen to point out that the ruling was made only on the process of the casino proposals and not on the unfair situation that the BCA claims will develop once the new casinos are built.  

"It is important to note that the court was concerned purely with process. It was not making a judgment on the merits of the Government's policy of discrimination,” said Lady Penny Cobham, chairman of the BCA.

"Our view is that the very substantial competitive advantage granted to the 17 new casinos is disproportionate and will pose a serious threat to long-established British businesses and jobs,” she added.

That competitive disadvantage the BCA is referring to is the fact the proposals will allow the 17 new casinos to host more slot machines with higher jackpots.

The BCA are therefore urging the government to look again at the extra provisions reserved for the 17 new casinos.

Editor, Jackpot.co.uk - 2007-06-12 11:18:07

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