'Super casino' bid for Suffolk

THE first Las Vegas style “super casino” could be built in Suffolk as its county town has submitted an official proposal for a massive gambling venue.Ipswich will battle it out with 26 other areas for the right to build Britain's first giant regional casino, it was confirmed last night.

THE first Las Vegas style “super casino” could be built in Suffolk as its county town has submitted an official proposal for a massive gambling venue.

Ipswich will battle it out with 26 other areas for the right to build Britain's first giant regional casino, it was confirmed last night.

Only one area will be allowed to host the facility, which is expected to bring in at least 4,000 visitors a day and - according to some -- could boost the local economy by £500million.

The Casino Advisory Panel is now “sifting and thinning” the pile of applications before it will announce a shortlist of top contenders.

Ipswich will go head-to-head with three other East Anglian towns - Great Yarmouth, Southend on Sea, and Thurrock, as well as Blackpool.

A total of 41 other authorities, including Chelmsford, have applied for one of the eight large and eight small casinos also being built.

Most Read

Blackpool is an early favourite to win the licence for a “super casino”, which would have 1,250 unlimited jackpot slot machines, but Ipswich's bid was highlighted in a full page advert in Parliamentary magazine The House.

However, John Gummer, Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal, said he did not think the proposal would be a sensible way to develop Ipswich at a time when it was on the cusp of becoming a serious provincial centre, with the Waterfront development and university plans.

Instead the super casino, expected to be sited on the Ipswich Waterfront, would be “brash and vulgar” and turn the town into the “Las Vegas of the East of England”, he claimed.

He added: “My own view is that we do not need this huge extension of gambling. I am not opposed to gambling, I am perfectly happy for people to make those choices, but to extend gambling in this way and put a super casino in Ipswich will bring with it huge social problems.

“For some people gambling is an addictive activity and we will have to pick up the pieces in this area.”

But John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “Competition is going to be tough as Ipswich is up against the likes of Blackpool, Manchester and Glasgow.

“It will be a good catalyst for regeneration. There is talk that it could give a £500million boost to the local economy, thousands of new jobs and a great boost to the county's entertainment industry that is already here.

“There could be 4-5,000 visitors a day brought in by these casinos so there would be lots of inwards investment, which has got to be a good thing.”

The regional casino can have a customer area of 5,000 square metres, while the large casinos can have a minimum customer area of 1,500 square metres and 150 gaming machines with a jackpot of £4,000. The small casinos are allowed 80 of the £4,000 machines and a customer area of 750 square metres.

A number of authorities have requested more than one casino and others have also indicated that they would be prepared to license a lower category of casino if they do not secure their first choice.

Professor Stephen Crow, chairman of the advisory panel, said the process of drawing up a shortlist could take up to eight weeks, adding: “Once we have completed this initial phase of evaluation, selected proposals will then go forward for further examination over the summer months.”

No one from Ipswich and Chelmsford borough councils were available to comment last night.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter