Labours casino plans in tatters - Wednesday 30th of April 2008
The Government faces fresh embarrassment over its casino laws as potential bidders for the 16 new licences start to walk away from the process - just as the legal framework is finalised.
Odds against: Casino firms say profits will be hard to find.
OTHER STORIESHomebuyer numbers slump to record low
Buy-to-let giant Inside Track goes bust
Market report: Tuesday latest
Oil giants £3m an hour as petrol soars
Bank boss hits back over bonuses
MORTGAGE SURVIVAL As the credit crunch bites, find the best mortgages and five tips to cut your bills
>> Mortgage help
WHERE NEXT FOR RATES? We round-up news and predictions on where will rates be in one month and one year. >> Forecasts
Casino groups Aspers, Gala, Rank, Stanley Leisure, Ladbrokes and Genting have all significantly cut back - and in some cases abandoned - their plans to make multiple bids for the new-style licences.
The Casino Location Order, part of the 2005 Gambling Act, is due to go before the House of Lords in the next few weeks where, if accepted, it will become law.
The 16 licences were created in a shakeup of Britains gambling laws and most significantly increase the number of slot machines allowed from 20 to 80 for small casinos and 150 for large ones.
But hopes that they would attract millions for regeneration, create masses of jobs and boost the gaming industry are now under threat.
Last year, after an 18-month process run by the Casino Advisory Panel costing £400,000, a last-minute U-turn led to plans for a Manchester Supercasino being axed.
Even plans for the smaller casinos are at risk as bidders claim tax changes and a lack of joined-up thinking have left their businesses in tatters. Enthusiasm has evaporated, said one industry insider.
Aspers boss Damian Aspinall said he would bid for only four licences rather than five. Though European players such as Casinos Austria are being mentioned, most of the international interest has dissipated, with Americas MGM Mirage, which last week laid off 400 staff, looking unlikely to join the fray.
The commercial viability is just not there any more, said a former bidder, pointing out that Government taxes take 24p out of every pound of profit. This has nearly wiped us out and has made the Government the biggest shareholder in UK casinos.
Former Culture Secretary James Purnell last year said advertising rights for casinos might be withdrawn, adding further doubt and instability to the industry. Another casino operator questioned the locations chosen for the casinos, with many being industrial towns where the Government hoped the investment would spark large-scale regeneration.
He said: It is ludicrous they are granting licences in these areas. It will not drive regeneration but put pressure on existing casino operators, who are already stretched, and send them to the wall.
Other news from around the same time
Internet gambling firms target SA - Wednesday 30th of April 2008
South Africa is soon to become a target for internet gambling operators from Europe as the countrys ....
New casino uniforms too sexy, workers say - Wednesday 30th of April 2008
As Casino Windsor gears up for its June unveiling under the Caesars brand, some female beverage work....
Trial outs Sands’ dealings for Macau - Wednesday 30th of April 2008
The biggest players in the gaming business have long wondered exactly how Sheldon Adelson’s compan....
Casino cash for carnival - Wednesday 30th of April 2008
Funds for a forthcoming street carnival have been given a boost following a £1,000 donation from a ....
Las Vegas strips Spamalot to close in July after 15-month run - Wednesday 30th of April 2008
The short list of Broadway hits on the Las Vegas Strip is about to get shorter.After a 15-month run,....
Spanish police bust Nigerian lottery scam - Wednesday 30th of April 2008
Spanish police have arrested 87 Nigerians they say are linked to a scam which embezzled millions of ....
Report warns against any betting shop slot machines - Wednesday 30th of April 2008
THE government has been advised to forbid the introduction of computerised slot machines in bookmake....
Gambling study expected soon - Wednesday 30th of April 2008
A study on the social and economic impact of gambling in Tasmania is expected to be handed to the Go....
Smoking ban exemption for casinos rejected - Wednesday 30th of April 2008
Lawmakers on Wednesday again rejected a plan to allow smoking in Illinois casinos.The fight to exemp....
Tourist spending more in Macau - Wednesday 30th of April 2008
Tourists are spending more when travelling to Macau, with figures from the Statistics and Census Ser....