Casino hopes to open doors 24 hours a day in Northampton - Wednesday 13th of May 2009

A casino in the centre of Northampton has bid to become the towns first 24-hour, seven-day a week gambling venue.

The owners of the Gala casino at the Sol Central complex in Marefair have already been awarded a 24-hour gaming licence and have now applied to Northampton Borough Council for planning permission to keep the building open all day, every day.

Company spokesman, Sarah Mercer, said: "The reason weve applied for the extended opening hours is because we want to offer the same service to people in Northampton that we currently offer in 18 of our other casinos across the country.

"It will also offer our management more flexibility and offer the same facilities to our customers whether theyre in Aberdeen or Northampton.

"It doesnt necessarily mean well open at these times all the time. If we get the licence, well look at opening times then."

There are currently four casinos in the centre of Northampton and three, including the Sol Central venue, already have permission to stay open until 6am.

But news of the possible 24-hour casino has caused concerns among some people.

Councillor Tess Scott (Lab, Castle) represents the area of the town centre which includes Sol Central on Northampton Borough Council.

She said: "My initial thought was that wed have to look at it very carefully.

"I suppose the main difference from the current opening hours will be in the early mornings and it seems a little peculiar to me that people would want to gamble at 8am, for example.

"The main thing that worries people living close to Sol Central is having things open through the night. As its already open late, that wont make a huge difference.

"But the real concern is the difference it could make to the people who already go to casinos for too long and too frequently."

She was backed by the other representative for the area, Councillor Tony Clarke (Ind, Castle).

He said: "While I accept a casino is a late night operation, if there is any chance of a nuisance being caused for neighbouring residents then the council will have to impose conditions on the licence."

The application to extend the casinos opening hours will be heard by both the borough council and the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC). A decision is expected to be made by June.

Gala also plans to bring its "Magic Bus" to Northamptons Market Square next month.

The mobile casino, which contains roulette and black jack facilities, will be on the squares new entertainment area from 7pm on May 21 and 22.

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