Casino plans in disarray as Purnell extends review

The plans for licensing of casinos have fallen into further disarray after James Purnell, the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, announced that local authorities will be given the chance to reconsider plans.

The announcement comes after the Prime Minster, Gordon Brown, revealed last week that plans for a “supercasino” in Manchester would be re-examined.

In a written statement, Purnell said that he was writing to local authorities that have been awarded licences for eight small and eight large casinos to ask if they still wanted to press ahead with plans.

The Gambling Act 2005 provides for one regional, eight large and eight small casinos. The casino advisory panel identified the local authorities to be awarded these sixteen casinos.

The statement also says that since Parliament debated the issue, local elections have taken place in many of the relevant areas. Some have had a change of control and some individual councilors involved in the decisions may have changed.

Purnell says in the statement: “I have decided to write to the authorities concerned to ask them to confirm their continued desire to license a new casino. If any of the authorities have had a change of heart, I will not include them in the new legislation.”

Purnell also states that he will await the results of a study by the independent Gambling Commission into the prevalence of gambling, due to be published in September, before any decisions will be made.

He adds: “I have decided that it is right to pause, to wait for the results of the prevalence study to be published in September before reaching a decision on how best to respond to the decision of the House of Lords to defeat the casinos areas order.”

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