Casino idea gets backing in Suffolk town

THE prospect of a new casino in the heart of a horseracing community has been backed by a district councillor who is planning a similar facility in a neighbouring town.

THE prospect of a new casino in the heart of a horseracing community has been backed by a district councillor who is planning a similar facility in a neighbouring town.

The idea of a casino in the centre of Newmarket has been mooted by independent consultants looking at ways of improving the town and reaffirming its status as the home of horseracing.

But amid concerns from a number of town councillors, who feel crime in the area would rise if such a project was given the go-ahead, district councillor Terry Waters has voiced his support.

Cllr Waters, who received outline planning permission for a casino adjoining Mildenhall Stadium, said he believed such a facility would be ideal for a town like Newmarket.

He said: "I think it would be a good thing for the town and I know a lot of people who would use it rather than go further afield.

"There are already a lot of gambling people in Newmarket and I think it would go hand-in-hand with the racing.

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"Although I want to build a casino in Mildenhall, I think competition is never a bad thing."

In April, Mr Waters' £1million plans for a casino were given the backing by district councillors.

The Mildenhall Stadium owner wanted roulette wheels and blackjack to go alongside speedway, banger racing and greyhound racing in West Row.

But Mr Waters will have to wait until stringent Government laws, forcing potential owners to prove there is a demand, are changed.

This is good news for Newmarket town councillor Jim Littlewood, who predicts a rise in crime if the home of horseracing ever hosts Suffolk's first casino.

He said he did not believe it would go "hand-in-hand" with the racing community saying: "There is a difference between gambling on a horse in the afternoon and betting until 2am in the morning – there is a different culture.

"Crime figures would escalate if a casino was built in the town. I have nothing against gambling but I think a casino wouldn't be suitable for Newmarket.

"I feel the people who would come into Newmarket for the casino would not respect our town as if it was their own."

Forest Heath District Council spokeswoman Sally Rode said the idea of a casino had been suggested but it was only a long-term possibility.

She added: "There has been a passing reference made to a casino in the consultants' report but it is not a major part of the project.

"Other elements should be concentrated on first, it is merely an idea and there have been no firm proposals."

The casino was one of many suggestions by independent consultants acting for the Home of Horse Racing steering group.

Containing district councillors and members of the local horseracing community, the group has been set up to reaffirm the town as a leader in racing and breeding activities.

A report by the East of England Development Agency said investment plans for racecourses in other areas could have an adverse effect on Newmarket.

The steering group have published a number of ambitious plans to protect the town's status in horse racing circles including a hall of fame and moving the National Horseracing Museum to larger premises.

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