A betting man would not wager on Labour agreeing to a super casino for Southampton (From Daily Echo)
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Why create an attraction that will harm those who have most to lose?
9:08am Friday 28th September 2012 in Editor Ian Murray's Blog
If I were a gambling man, which I am not, I would put my money on Southampton City Council regretting its backing for a super casino.
As this paper reports this week, Southampton has finally given the green light to the creation of just such a pleasure palace.
In fact it has had the ability to grant the go-ahead for sometime, having been chosen as one of only eight cities throughout the country where such premises can be sited.
Southampton is actually the last of those on the list to get around to setting out what would-be developers would have to do to win the licence, behind the likes of Hull, Milton Keynes, Leeds and Great Yarmouth.
Quite why it has taken so long for the city to get its act together we can put down to a mixture of changes in administration, and perhaps a reluctance to take the lead. After all, there is a risk here.
In a poll undertaken by this paper four years ago just 52 per cent of readers were actually in favour of the super casino plan.
It’s not hard to understand why there is concern in a lot of quarters. Gambling as such carries a stigma, no matter how exciting the premises where it is being staged.
Then there is the sort of tourist such attractions draw in to the city.
And finally, and the part that surprises me the most, gambling is recognised to cause the greatest harm for those who ca least afford it – the local working class population.
That it is a Labour administration that is pushing through the proposals I find eyebrow-raising.
I can only surmise that the report carried out by the council that concluded a new super casino would bring £11m-a-year into the city’s economy swayed doubters. But is that figure, welcome as it is, worth bringing so much potential misery?
Of course some might say, and no doubt will, that as we already have three casinos in Southampton where is the problem? To which I would say, well, isn’t three enough?