On the Cards: The proposals for new casinos in London


As part of the deregulation of the casinos market in the United Kingdom, the government is in the process of accepting applications from local authorities and regional planning bodies for permission to build new casinos. For the first time, approval will be given for a new American style super-casino1 in the UK. One of the main reasons given by government for the development of these new regional casinos is their ability to help drive local regeneration. The new regional casinos will provide a range of gambling activities, and may include hotel accommodation, conference facilities and live entertainment. All of these should help to provide employment for local people. Yet, there remain concerns that casinos may encourage problem gambling and crime. The new regional casinos will be unlike anything that already exists in London. Their size means that they are designed to be 'destination venues' drawing substantial visitor numbers, often late at night. Increased visitor numbers will present potential nuisance problems for neighbouring communities. Having considered the potential benefits and problems that these new developments could bring, the committee has made the following recommendations for a regional casino to be acceptable in London. Any proposals for a new regional casino must: - offer significant regeneration benefits to an area in demonstrable need of regeneration, including new and sustainable employment opportunities for local people - demonstrate high accessibility, particularly by public transport, whilst recognising the likelihood of increased private car journeys - be located away from residential development and from everyday high street shopping, to minimise loss of amenity and to minimise ambient or impulse gambling opportunities - be sited as part of a clearly defined and separate leisure/entertainment destination, again to minimise ambient or impulse gambling opportunities. The Committee calls upon the Mayor to adopt these criteria when considering any proposal for a new regional casino in London. These criteria should also guide his submission to the new Independent Advisory Panel that will consider all applications for new casinos. Finally, the London Plan, and existing planning policies, need to be updated to take account of the new gambling legislation.

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