Social enterprise casino opens in Yarmouth - Wednesday 17th of June 2009

A social enterprise casino has opened in Great Yarmouth in an attempt to stop the decline of the seaside town.

Hospitality & Grow was set up last month as part of the Grow Organisation UK, an umbrella for a series of ‘& Grow social enterprises in the east of England.

The Caesars Palace arcade is just one part of Hospitality & Grows £6m seafront complex, which will employ and train long-term unemployed people in its bars, nightclub and eco-friendly hotel for people with special needs.

Profits from Caesars Palace will be used to fight gambling addictions by funding, training and employing gambling addiction advisors though another local social enterprise, Count Me Out, and help fund a gambling and substance misuse support group.

Grow Organisation UK bosses believe the model could be rolled out nationwide, to tackle gambling problems.

Trevor Lynn, co director of the Grow Organisation UK, said the casino was a case of ‘if you cant beat them, join them.

‘In the summer tourists would spend a fortune, but in winter crime would go up and tourism went down. Yarmouth is now one of the most deprived places in the UK, he said.

‘When we saw this massive seafront complex, we knew we could use it to make a difference. We could train and employ people to renovate and run the hotel and in the casino we could teach customer services and administration.

‘All the profits will go back into the community and the profits from the casino will help stop gambling addictions. We cant stop gambling, but we can train advisors to stop people putting £100 in a machine only to get £60 out.

‘If we get this right, we could have social enterprise casinos all over the UK. It could be a new model of best practice for the industry.

Hospitality & Grow has already employed 15 people in the past month.

Lynn added that the Trade & Grow scheme set up to renovate the hotel would go on to renovate homes once the hotel project was complete.

The Grow Organisation UK is aiming to match funding raised to renovate the complex and hopes to plough in £10m over the next five years.

It is already projecting a turnover of £3m in its first year.

Other & Grow organisations include Catering & Grow, which recently won a £100,000 contract to provide food for workers in oil rigs off the coast of Yarmouth.

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