Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Super-Casino shock win – good news for Manchester?

In a surprise result, Manchester has been chosen as the location of the UK’s first Super-Casino. The Manchester bid was a serious underdog, with the licence expected to go to either Blackpool or the Millennium Eleph … er … Dome. The bid will lead to investment and regeneration in a poor area of the city, and create up to 2,700 new jobs.

Super-Casinos have strong critics. Problem gambling causes misery for around 300,000 people in Britain, and opponents say that if we improve access to casinos, and if we permit Las Vegas-style gambling complexes, we’ll put thousands more at risk.

Those who support the scheme disagree, saying that it’s wrong to ban something just to save a minority from themselves. There’s a problem with obsessive shoppers, but we don’t ban shops – we have trading standards and consumer protection, and we provide support to shopaholics. A similar model for gambling would help to prevent problem gambling, whilst allowing everyone else to have a fun night out.

I don’t know the answer to this debate, but I do know that right now, Britain is sending out all the wrong signals about financial prudence. People max out credit cards each December, whilst the Farepak victims, who’d saved up a little each month, lost out badly. Interest rates are at a record high, but banks won’t pass it on to their customers. And similarly, sensible gamblers, who go in with a £20 and leave when they’ve lost it all, risk being penalised for the sake of a minority who refuse to be responsible with their money. It’s impossible to tackle the problem of personal debt if people have the impression that savers get screwed over.

So would I go to the new Manchester Super-Casino when it opens? No. Not that I disapprove, but my vice is Texas Hold’Em poker, and it’s just not worth playing it at a casino, because the House helps itself to a percentage of every pot. If you want to play Hold’Em, get a group of friends together, invest in some casino-grade cards and a nice set of clay chips, and get started! It’s extremely good fun.

I may not win Lib Dem Blog of the Year, but I bet you I would be Lib Dem Poker Player of the Year, if there were such a thing. Anyone fancy a tournament at the next Federal Conference? We can settle this once and for all …


monsterravingloony said...

There is no right answer on this one.

On the plus side it will generate around 3,000 jobs, bring in a lot of income for the area, attract tourism and all that sort of stuff.

On the minus side it will probably be a money-launderer's paradise and increase the number of people who become addicted to gambling and end up hopelessly in debt (not that we should be nannying people - everyone has to take responsibility for their own behaviour).

It may also change the character and image of the city. Gambling has a a number of negative connotations and associations - I'm not sure Manchester residents will all welcome their home town being turned into the UK's answer to Las Vegas.

The image issue would not have been a problem for Blackpool which already wants to be the place people go to play, has perfectly good motorway links and desperately needed the super-casino as the seed for regeneration to escape the 50s "kiss me quick" hat image.

Jingoistic said...

Definitely not a good idea. There's already enough crime around the merseyside area as it is! (and I know since I live there)

Hold'em is great with friends, but you go to the casino for the atmosphere! Sometimes it's just not the same...

Scott said...

I'm sure I've seen you in Oxford. Aren't you at Trinity? Weren't you something at the Union? Tell me you aren't ashamed of our University! There's not a mention of it here.

Jonny Wright said...

Hey Scott. Yes, I'm indeed a Trinitarian, and I spent three happy terms on Union Committee, plotting and schem ... er, debating and helping organise stuff.

I'm very proud of our University! I just couldn't quite see how it fitted into an article on the Super-Casino, so I didn't mention it.

So, have I met you at some point?

Anonymous said...

I would like to go to Las Vegas and play in a high roller casino but it’s an expensive thing to do, even more so when you live in the UK. I have to resort to playing a casino game online instead which lets me win the money but I miss out on the atmosphere, but still save £600 on the 14 hour flight. So until I win big all I’ll do is play online casino dreaming of Las Vegas.

Anonymous said...


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