Britain gambles on casino in Manchester

Artist's impression of the proposed Vegas-style casino for Sport City in Manchester

KAI RYSSDAL: Gamblers looking for a change of venue will soon have another choice. Manchester, in the north of England, has been chosen as the home for the U.K.'s first super-casino. It'll have the works: roulette, card tables and unlimited slot machines. Manchester figures it's hit the jackpot. But critics say Britain's taking a dangerous gamble. From London, Marketplace's Stephen Beard reports.

STEPHEN BEARD: Britain has never seen anything like it — 1,200 slot machines, each with a payout up to $2 million. For the first time in the U.K. a casino will be glitzy, with live entertainment. In Parliament, the minister Tessa Jowell told her critics the country isn't heading down the road to ruin.
TESSA JOWELL: Las Vegas is not coming to Great Britain. British casinos will be subject to new controls which will be the strictest in the world.

The supercasino will be in a rundown part of Manchester and will create 3,000 much-needed jobs, says City Council boss Richard Leese.

RICHARD LEESE: It's going to be to be a real boost to the regeneration of what is one of the most deprived areas of the country. And we're now really looking forward to taking this forward.

But Justin Williams, a reformed gambling addict, doesn't share that enthusiasm for the supercasino — or for the other 16 smaller new-style casinos around Britain also announced today.

JUSTIN WILLIAMS: We're making gambling more accessible to more vulnerable people. And gambling is just as addictive as an addiction to a substance.

The government says it'll be watching the new casinos carefully to monitor the economic and the social effects.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.


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