Police voice fears over supercasinos

By Alex Berry – source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/01/15/nvegas15.xml

Plans for Las Vegas-style supercasinos in Britain could lure vulnerable groups such as children into gambling, according to a leaked police report.

The document, written by Det Insp Darren Warner of Scotland Yard’s Gaming Unit, also warned that they could lead to an increase in crime and anti-social behaviour.

Obtained by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme, it was commissioned by the consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as part of a study into the social impact of such a venue at the Millennium Dome.

The site of Britain’s first supercasino is expected to be revealed in a fortnight, with the Dome a frontrunner.

In the report, Mr Warner gave the idea a “cautious welcome” but also warned that the advent of new casinos alongside the recent relaxation of drinking laws could be a “poor combination”.

He expressed fears about “increased access to gambling for children and vulnerable groups”.

“This will happen as it’s in every developer’s manifesto,” he said. “The ‘destination casinos’ are offering other family-oriented activities.

“Children will be taken to a gambling resort — even if they are kept 50 yards away in another type of play room until they graduate at 18.”

Mr Warner also said that competition with nightclubs and other venues might force casinos to go back on undertakings that entertainment “would not interfere with gaming or be of a sexual nature”.

Hugo Swire, the shadow culture secretary, said: “This is a hugely critical report by the Met’s most senior expert on gaming issues.

“Det Insp Warner raises concerns about increases in crime, problem gambling and an increase in teenage gambling, all issues that the -Government’s gambling reforms were supposed to address.”

In October it emerged that the final PwC report warned that the casino could lead to addictive gambling.

A British Medical Association report is tomorrow expected to call for more money for the NHS to treat the rising number of people with a gambling addiction.

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