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Skeptics Speak Out Against Blackpool Casino Resort

15 March 2004

BLACKPOOL, United Kingdom – As reported by the Guardian Unlimited: "It is not easy to envisage the future standing on Blackpool seafront on a frigid March afternoon, especially as the one person who might help - Leah Petulengro - has closed her fortune-telling booth for the winter.

"In any case, the idea being suggested seemed so preposterous that Ms Petulengro would never dare mention it. All this, Marc Etches was saying, will be swept away: Mr T's amusement arcade, the Sea Life Centre ("the largest collection of sharks in Britain"), the Candy Box fudge and nougat shop, the Petulengro booth, the car park behind and even the nearby police station.

"In its place, on land now owned either by Blackpool borough council or Mr Etches' firm, Leisure Parcs, will rise a resort hotel-cum-megacasino, with space for 2,500 slot machines, 70 gaming tables and 1000 bedrooms.

"…A few small matters have to be attended to first, starting with a change in the law. But that is coming. A new gambling bill is expected to get through parliament before the next general election that will loosen beyond all recognition the restraints on casino development in Britain.

"…This will be the other half of a picture that already amazes foreigners. For the past 40 years Britain has been running the most liberal betting regime in the world. The country offers punters opportunities to bet where they want, how they want and when they want that are denied to almost everyone else in the world.

"…But the sceptics have some surprising allies. The Rank group, who operate one of Blackpool's two existing casinos, the Grosvenor, is very dubious about the proposed mega-casinos.

"…Other shrewd judges think Blackpool is too far from the high rollers in the big cities: MGM-Mirage, the number one casino operator in Las Vegas, is dipping toes into puddles all over Britain - it already has agreements with Earls Court/Olympia and Newcastle United FC - but not Blackpool…"

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