Brown casts doubt over proposals for regional casino licence

United Kingdom

This article was produced by Olswang LLP, which joined with CMS on 1 May 2017.

Since becoming Prime Minister, Gordon Brown has expressed his lack of faith in the concept of a regional casino, prompting widespread speculation that the book was finally closed on the troubled plans for the introduction of a Las-Vegas style complex in Manchester under the Gambling Act 2005. He stated on 11 July:

"in September we will have a report that will look at gambling in our country… I hope that during these summer months we can look at whether regeneration in the areas for the supercasinos may be a better way of meeting their economic and social needs than the creation of supercasinos."

The proposals have had a troubled history. Following the Casino Advisory Panel's controversial recommendation that the regional licence should be awarded to Manchester, the House of Lords rejected the proposals by voting against the Gambling (Geographical Distribution of Casino Premises Licenses) Order 2007. Despite the defeat, Tessa Jowell claimed the plans were "very much alive."

Following this, the British Casino Association (BCA), who claimed the new casinos' ability to offer slot machines would condemn the 138 existing casinos to second-class status with potential lost profits of £120m, was granted leave to contend the Government's proposals by means of judicial review. On 11 June, however Mr Justice Langstaff ruled in the High Court that the BCA's claim failed on all counts.

This ruling was welcomed by the DCMS, but Mr. Brown's comments on 11 July suggested that proposals for a regional casino have now been abandoned under the reorganised cabinet. We await the September report with interest.