So Blackpool’s Council leader is trying to get resort casinos back on the agenda case of the coalition…. nice try Cllr Callow, but it’s not going to happen.
Firstly, was it not opposition from the Tories and the Lib Dems – or, at least, their proxies at The Mail and The Telegraph – (and some Labour backbenchers) that got the whole megacasino experiment torpedoed in the first place?
Secondly, is one of the big casino operators going to be interested in coming to Blackpool when they’ve just pumped billions into the fast-growing Macau market and newly-liberalised Singapore? Some may still think Britain is the centre of the world, but the truth is that the axis has tilted far eastwards. Laos, not Layton, is the new frontier for the gaming industry. And, at a time when ‘austerity’ is our watchword, that’s not going to change any time soon.
Thirdly, will parties comitted to free trade and, err, liberalism, really going to acquiesce to laws that give a tiny dot on the west coast exclusive rights to a new type of gambling, to the exclusion of the rest of the country?
The truth is it will never happen and Peter Callow, who I’ve alwayds had a lot of time for, must know it. Perhaps he and his town hall colleagues are more interested in shutting out this report from the Guardian. It suggests that top civil servants tried to block the sale of the Winter Gardens and Tower to the council on the grounds that it wasn’t a good deal. Most people had been pretty optimistic that the takeover would end up benefitting Blackpool. Are we so sure now?