Plans to build a huge super casino resort in Blackpool could be back on the cards after the matter was raised in parliament.
Scott Benton, the MP for Blackpool South, has asked the culture secretary, John Whittingdale, to reconsider the project that was first proposed more than a decade ago.
Back then, Blackpool, Manchester and Greenwich were identified as potential sites for the UK’s first mega resort, but the project was later vetoed by key government figures.
But the hope is that all is not lost after the matter was revisited in the chambers, with Benton asking Whittingdale directly:
“Will the minister commit himself to reviewing the case for a regional casino during the gambling review, and assess the significant positive economic impact that a regional casino could make to a town such as Blackpool, which would be the obvious location to host such a casino?”
In answering, Whittingdale confirmed that there might be a possibility that the casino concept could be brought back to life.
“The legislation is still on the statute book and could therefore be utilised….if support for the bid was received well by residents, if a suitable operator could be found and if it was supported by Blackpool Council.”
Later, when quizzed, Benton confirmed he had already opened up preliminary talks with potential firms to take on the projection, stating that ‘my discussions at the moment are with operators to see if they would be interested, and if that’s the case then I would put forward a strong case for Blackpool.’
There are already three licensed operators in the city, with Grosvenor owning two properties, Coral Island and Genting Casino, who recently announce the closure of their online casino and sports betting sites.
It’s possible that any of those firms would want to have their name on the UK’s first ever mega casino resort, with Grosvenor in particular a likely candidate – they hold leases in Blackpool that run until 2030 at the earliest.
A site at the old Central Station had been identified as a potential space for the build, although planning permission has since been granted for an ‘entertainment complex’ on the ground that would not encompass a casino.
Back in the Game?
It did seem that hopes for a super-casino in England were dashed when some House of Lords peers refused to give the project the green light.
It was felt as a bitter blow for Blackpool, with the resort creating hundreds of jobs and pumping some much-needed revenue into the city’s coffers. The ‘destination’ nature of a major casino development would also have seen tourists from around the world descend on the seaside town.
After 13 years, the ‘Super Casino’ project was revisited by the MP Jake Berry, who termed the plans as a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to revitalise the popular tourist stop-off.
Reports online suggest that talks between ministers and Blackpool councillors on resurrecting the idea had been going well in June 2019 – particularly after the ‘social wealth fund’, which would have pumped millions into education and training for locals, was floated.
There has been little movement since, although Scott Benton is still knocking on the door.
“If this were to happen, it would entail a whole regeneration package,” he said.
“Hospitality could be added on to the gambling experience as well, and it would obviously present opportunities for more jobs, retail, more bars and restaurants.
“The benefits speak for themselves. We could be looking at thousands more jobs for local people, a huge boost to the economy, and hundreds of millions of pounds being spent locally, not just in the casino but in existing businesses as well.”