Casinos get a thumbs down in new poll

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The Independent Online

More than half the population, including two-thirds of the women asked, have told pollsters that they would not want a casino to open near to where they live.

More than half the population, including two-thirds of the women asked, have told pollsters that they would not want a casino to open near to where they live.

The findings, by the NOP polling agency, suggest that casino operators could face stiff local opposition if they try to take advantage of the relaxed laws on casinos set out in a government Bill published last week.

The Bill, drawn up by the Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, represents the first attempt to regulate the growing internet gambling industry, and will limit the number of fixed-odds machines. But its most controversial clauses are those that would open up new opportunities to multinational companies to open big casinos in Britain.

Firms such as MGM are already looking at around 120 sites in Britain, while councillors in some towns, including Blackpool, are actively trying to encourage them to come in to help revive the local economy.

But the law has been drafted to ensure that local residents have the power to object before a casino licence is granted. Groups such as the Salvation Army, which is campaigning against the spread of gambling, hope that opposition from local residents can be galvanised to keep the casinos out.

The Bill is also likely to trigger another backbench rebellion by Labour MPs, many of whom objected when the Tory government created the National Lottery.

The former Labour minister Peter Kilfoyle - who suspects that his home city of Liverpool will be one of the first targets for the casino operators - said: "Not only do people not want the inconvenience that comes with any major development in their area, but with gambling in particular there is the very reasonable fear that it attracts with it activities like drug dealing and prostitution."

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