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Govt Sees Off Casino Challenge

The trade body representing the vast majority of Britain's casinos on Monday lost its High Court challenge over government plans to shake-up the country's gambling industry. The British Casino Association (BCA) failed to persuade the London-based court that Labour's policy to create 17 new casinos, including the first Las Vegas-style "super-casino," was treating existing gaming establishments with "blatant unfairness."

However Judge Brian Langstaff said that the legal challenge failed on all counts. "We welcome the judgement and the finding that the policy was fairly and properly made," said a spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The BCA argued that existing gaming establishments could lose 120 million pounds in lost profits annually owing to the casino reforms introduced by Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell. In January, Manchester was named by the Casino Advisory Panel (CAP) as the surprise choice for the country's first Las Vegas-style casino.

The independent panel also set out plans for eight "large" and eight "small" casinos in various other towns and cities around the country. However in March, the House of Lord's rejected the government's plans by a narrow majority, forcing ministers back to the drawing board.

Following Monday's judgement and despite the Lords' earlier rejection, Sports Minister Richard Caborn said in a statement: "We will continue to get on with the job of implementing the Gambling Act by September 1 and putting in place significant new safeguards for children and other vulnerable people which it contains." Changes in Britain's gaming laws date back to 2005 when legislation was relaxed to allow the creation of Las Vegas-style casinos.

Initially eight were envisaged but the government backed off in the face of widespread opposition. Opposition was particularly strong from charitable organisations helping those with gambling dependency.


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