Headlines: September 13th, 2007

Experts on responsible gambling have concluded that a regional casino in Manchester would be highly regulated and unlikely to increase problem gambling. At the request of the city council they have been looking at Manchester’s approach to combating problem gambling and have emphasised that the real threat comes from the growth of internet gambling.

Their 14-page report into the situation in Manchester has been unveiled by Paul Bellringer, the director of Responsible Gambling solutions, and Professor Mark Griffiths from the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University. The research has also been endorsed by Greater Manchester Police and by Laura Roberts, chief executive of Manchester Primary Care Trust.

The report does, though, recommend a series of measures the city could adopt to strengthen its licensing and social responsibility policy. These include raising age restrictions in the casino, requiring the operator to pilot the use of smart card technology to predict problem gambling. They also suggest making the casino include responsible gambling features on machines such as clocks and impose restrictions on playing times. Finally they urge the city to launch a public awareness campaign on problem gambling and young people.

The experts conclude that Manchester’s proposals for a casino are the most highly regulated and controlled form of gambling and they endorse the Government’s policy of piloting a regional casino and say changing that policy now will do nothing to reduce problem gambling. Instead, they argue, it could jeopardise the development of measures in Manchester to tackle the issue.

Chief Superintendent Donnellan said the police would continue to work closely with the council and other partners on the development of a casino and a robust policing plan will be put in place to assist in combating issues that may arise from a major leisure and tourist development.