|Ministers cleared the way for big gambling companies to dominate an expanded casino market yesterday by proposing a ban on small 'cornershop' casinos. |
The minister for gambling, Lord McIntosh, and the planning minister, Keith Hill, said they wanted to see a 5,000 sq ft (464.5 sq metre) minimum size for new casinos when the government deregulates the industry.
Ministers have laid down a limit on the number of gaming machines that each casino may install, to be included in a draft gambling bill to be published later this year. The limit will be three machines for each table in casinos with up to 40 tables.
The Department of Media, Culture and Sport said yester day that the plan for a 5,000 sq ft minimum table gaming area was to head off a proliferation of smaller casinos.
Lord McIntosh said that the licensing regime would strike a clear balance between bringing gambling further into the mainstream and protecting children and the vulnerable. 'Our proposals ... will not however affect any plans to open up resort-style casinos. It is just important that they are not situated on every street corner.'
Blackpool has proposed regenerating itself by becoming a centre for gambling. It has also been estimated that deregulation could lead to 450 small new casinos or up to 250 larger ones in England and Wales.
The ministers confirmed that the market, rather than local authorities, should determine the number, size character and location of casinos. But regional planning bodies should specify sites for the largest casinos.
The British Casino Association said the plan was evidence of the government's commitment to deregulation.