Bets back on for casino - Tuesday 19th of June 2007

MANCHESTERS supercasino bid is back on track after a legal challenge claiming new casinos would be unfair to existing venues was thrown out.

The British Casino Association (BCA) had claimed plans for 17 new casinos - including a Las Vegas-style casino near Sportcity - could cost jobs across the country.

But High Court judge Mr Justice Langstaff ruled against the challenge on all counts.

Campaigners for Manchesters supercasino, which would create 3,000 jobs, urged the government to get on with finding a way to get it built.

Blackley MP Graham Stringer welcomed the ruling and said he was hoping for quick progress.

Manchester was chosen by an independent panel as the best location for Britains first supercasino, with more than 1,000 slot machines. But the move was stalled in March when the House of Lords voted against it.

Ministers have insisted they are still committed to Manchester getting the supercasino and are considering how to proceed. The legal challenge was backed by four companies - Gala Casinos, Grosvenor Casinos, London Clubs International and Stanley Casinos. Between them they operate 116 of the 138 casinos in Britain.

Sports minister Richard Caborn said: "I welcome the judgment which dismissed the BCAs case on all grounds and found that our policy was fairly and properly made."

Manchester council leader Sir Richard Leese said: "The result is very good news.We hope to be in a position to move forward on the regional casino as soon as possible."

He said Mr Caborn was proposing to bring the casino orders back to parliament in the near future and added: "I dont know exactly what form they will take but I suspect to avoid what happened last time they will include parliamentary scrutiny before they are voted on.

"I have no concerns about that whatsoever. The Manchester proposal won on its merits and parliamentary scrutiny isnt going to change that."

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