Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40-42)
MR PAUL BELLRINGER OBE, MS RACHEL LAMPARD, PROFESSOR ORFORD, MR PETER COLLINS AND BISHOP OF BLACKBURN
TUESDAY 11 JUNE 2002
40. What is the response within Blackpool?
(Bishop of Blackburn) There is a mixed response. It depends how questions are put and to whom they are put as to what you get. There is a very serious concern about the regeneration of that and a number of other seaside resorts, but my particular concern is Blackpool. Many would see this as a key way to bring new investment, but only if the proper social care and responsibility is put in. I am also pleading in my evidence for there to be something quite unknown in this country, which is a kind of local levy which would help in that regeneration.
41. Have you had any success in going down that route because it has not come up anywhere else so far. It was raised with us when we went to Las Vegas.
(Bishop of Blackburn) My position is often a lone voice crying in the wilderness, but it seems to me there is a direct effect. One of the ways in which it has been sold to the people of Blackpool is that it will bring economic regeneration without a great social cost. We are concerned particularly about that social cost but I believe that could be overcome with the proper kinds of things that we have been talking about this morning.
42. You mentioned in answer to Frank Doran that there is underground, illegal gambling already going on in this country. Do you have any estimate of how much there is? Do we have any knowledge of that? Is there more prevalence of the problems associated with illegal gambling than with the legal, controlled gambling?
(Mr Bellringer) I do not know what the size of illegal gambling is. I am aware there are illegal casinos. There was a lot of illegal betting going on but that might have been reduced now that there has been a change in the taxation system. The slot machine industry suffers from illegal machines in places at the back of cafes and places like that. We do know that when somebody has a problem with their gambling and they have got to the stage where they just want to continue the activity, they become less choosy about where they gamble, so they are very easy prey to any illegal activities that are going on. From what people tell us, they do go to illegal establishments to gamble. I do not think there is any evidence that I know of that people getting into illegal establishments are creating a bigger problem than those gambling in the legal field, partly because the legal field is so great compared with the illegal operations. One would cancel the other out. Of course, an illegal operator does not care about being socially responsible. For that reason alone, let alone breaking laws and making life difficult for every legal operator and the local authorities, steps should be taken to eliminate it as much as possible.
Alan Keen: I was brought up very strictly as a Methodist. I was told as a youngster that gambling, drinking alcohol and sex were to be avoided. I did not realise until years afterwards that the reason I was sent to Sunday School three times a day was to allow sex to take place at home!
Chairman: With that, thank you very much.