Supercasino was always a bad bet

If it's true that Manchester's controversial supercasino is not to be after all, then good riddance say we. The residents of Beswick, in the east of the city where the Vegas-style complex would have been erected, have had a lucky escape. For while there's no doubt that this area - along with numerous other deprived urban areas up and down the country - is in serious need of 'regenerating', the idea that building a vast gambling emporium might achieve this aim was always extremely questionable.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Why should paying (badly in most cases) 3,000 hard-up locals to service a business which sucks cash out of the pockets of other, even harder-up locals, produce a net gain to the local economy? For the evidence of other countries - most notably the US and Australia - shows only too clearly that the vast majority of gamblers are not high-stakes high rollers at play but rather the urban poor, playing low-stakes games that they can ill afford to lose.

The debate may well be tainted - as industry boosters and class warriors maintain - by a hefty dose of unpalatable, affluent liberal disapproval, but that doesn't alter the fact that gambling demonstrably creates more problems than it solves. The only real 'value' likely to be 'added' to the community by such activity is an increased demand for social services and Gamblers Anonymous. A less headline-grabbing but more effective approach might go something like this - build lots of decent modern housing, improve the transport infrastructure and offer hefty tax and grant incentives to encourage businesses to relocate there.

To cap it all, the supercasino wasn't even going to be British run, so the only real money in the game - the hefty profits on the operation - would have gone elsewhere. Urban regeneration is a real and ongoing challenge, but roulette wheels, crap tables and one-armed bandits are not the way to tackle it. We should not mourn their loss.

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