Blackpool is often called, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, the Las Vegas of the United Kingdom thanks to its masses of neon lighting, fairground attractions and the famous gaming arcades.
While the seaside town has a four casinos within its boundaries – Genting Club Blackpool, Grosvenor G Casino Blackpool, Paris Casino, and Coral Island Casino – in reality none of the venues can come close to matching the glitz, glam and sheer size of a Las Vegas casino.
In 2006, the British government chose eight destinations it thought were most worthy of being granted an operating license for a regional casino, which the national press soon labelled “Super Casinos,” a moniker that has since stuck. These super casinos have to have a minimum customer area of 5,000 square meters and up to 1,250 unlimited-jackpot slot machines.
The first of these casinos was set to be built in Manchester, with Blackpool thought to be high on the list, too. However, when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in June 2007, he scrapped the Manchester super casino plans and Blackpool’s hopes of having a legitimate claim to be the UK’s version of Las Vegas looked to be dashed. In fact all eight destinations were overlooked and the UK’s two super casinos are now based in Milton Keynes and Stratford, London – both are owned by Aspers.
Blackpool’s economy has been on the slide for a number of years as UK holidaymakers continue to choose European and more exotic destinations for their vacations. Lord McNally of Blackpool is arguing in the House of Lords that the Lancashire seaside town needs a resort-type casino in order to boost the town’s flagging fortunes.
“I worry that, without concerted effort by both local and national government, the town could reach a tipping point which would make regeneration impossible. I still believe that the casino option should be revisited to revitalise the economy and to use Blackpool’s unique brand name to create a multi-activity resort, as has happened with many successful regenerations around the world. Blackpool urgently needs a coherent and co-ordinated programme of measures which will reverse the decline and create a benign circle of confidence and growth,” said Lord McNally in a speech at the House of Lords.
A number of towns and cities are thought to be considering applying for a super casino licence including Leeds, and more recently Southampton where Aspers confirmed its interest in developing a £330 million project at the Southampton Royal Pier.