Long shot wins race for UK casino

Scott Jagow Jan 30, 2007

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

SCOTT JAGOW: The U.S. government doesn’t want Americans gambling on the Internet. Last fall, Congress banned all financial transactions related to online gaming. Now, the European Union says it might challenge that law. A lot of the Internet gambling sites are based in Europe. Today, a top E.U. official said the U.S. is only trying to protect American casinos.

At the same time, Britain today announced the site of its own Las Vegas-style casino. This would be, by far, the biggest in the U.K. It’ll be in Manchester. Roger Blitz is covering this story for the Financial Times. Roger, I understand Manchester is a big surprise. Why is that?

ROGER BLITZ: It’s a surprise because Manchester was actually ranked bottom of this government-appointed panel’s initial examination of the short list. In particular, it was felt that its near neighbor, Blackpool, which is a seaside entertainment venue, although very tired and rundown, was more likely to be favored by the panel because of the depths of deprivation they suffer.

JAGOW: Well it’s interesting that you talk about this sort of in terms of a based-on-need thing. Is that how people are looking at it?

BLITZ: Well partly, but what these inspectors have been asked to do is to choose an experiment, is to choose a place which would be best placed to run effectively a trial as to whether the U.K. is capable of having Las Vegas-style casinos, dubbed here super-casinos.

JAGOW: Well why is Britain interested in this in the first place? Have there been people clamoring for a Las Vegas-style casino?

BLITZ: People actually in Blackpool have been clamoring for many years. What the debate has got into is to how many we should have. There is still a puritan view here in the U.K. that gambling is a sin, it creates social problems and that we should try and clamp down on it rather than encourage it.

JAGOW: OK Roger thanks a lot.

BLITZ: OK.

JAGOW: Roger Blitz is a reporter for the Financial Times.

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