Memorandum submitted by Blackpool Coalition
Against Gambling Expansion (BCAGE)
We are from all political groups and non-political
residents of Blackpool and the Fylde Coast.
Our coalition contains shopkeepers, hoteliers,
pub and club owners and managers. Also from various religious
faiths and no particular faith. We have supporters in various
trade unions, supporters of all age groups and from all social
and economic backgrounds. We have in our few months of existence
concentrated on lobbying movers and shakers rather than recruiting
a mass membership, but over four hundred people have signed our
Our coalition was originally formed to campaign
against the media hyped story that Blackpool was set to become
the Las Vegas of the UK. We soon discovered that the hype about
six, one thousand bed resort casinos was probably just thathype.
What we have in common is often personal or indirect experience
of a problem gambler. This perhaps made us receptive to the critical
information we obtained regarding the expansion of gambling proposed
by the Government.
That information contains a great deal of academic
and economic evidence and research on the effects of higher levels
of gambling activity in parts of the US, Australia, Canada and
New Zealand. Our main recommendation to the Select Committee is
to delay any expansion of gambling until there has been a great
deal of analysis of the social costs that each aspect of gambling
expansion will cause to each community and UK society in general.
After careful analysis we hope the Committee
will agree that UK research is required to either prove or disprove
findings that casino developments make NO positive contribution
to the economy. The research that best explains our case is by
William N. Thompson, Professor of Public Administration at the
University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
In brief he is one of few experts that research
where money comes from before it is spent in a casino. Also where
it may have been spent had the casino not been so convenient.
His analysis covers where the money goes afterwards in terms of
profits, tax, expenses etc.
We have focused on a particular report of his,
as the size is similar to the first resort casino proposed for
Total number of gambling visits 3 million
Total annual revenue $226 million
Expenses $147 million
Profits $79 million
In the US far more of the tax payable would
be paid locally or regionally than in the UK. Even so in the US
example $78 million would leave the region in tax, profits and
There is considerable evidence that 50 per cent
to 60 per cent of the income comes from problem gamblers. The
social costs to society [of those problem gamblers] in the area
served by the casino are estimated at $29 million a year.
The cost of extra crime often caused to obtain
money to feed a gambling problem is estimated at $2 million a
Because of the multiplier effect [money passing
through regional business twice] the loss of this money to the
community can be doubled. Professor Thompson concludes that introducing
a casino of this type and size will "result in a reduction
of wealth to the local regional area exceeding $220 million a
The only casino that could be said to contribute
positively to the UK economy would be a London casino that mostly
had foreign clients.
We would ask you to check the validity of research
undertaken in Florida which concluded that the social costs of
allowing Vegas style casinos in Florida, would be four times as
much as the potential tax revenue.
We are aware of similar research in Australia,
which concluded that for every $1 raised in tax from casinos and
gambling expansion, the social costs were $3.
We have not the resources or time to investigate
this research, but would urge the Select Committee to instruct
a detailed analysis of this and other research referred to on
the websites listed below.
Two pieces of research from the US, which gave
strength to our stance against gambling expansion, were:
Over 50 per cent of the revenue at one US casino
came from four per cent of the casino clients [Grinols and Omorov,1995].
Over 60 per cent of the casino revenue [Minnesota
planning agency] came from two per cent of the casino clients.
During a TV debate, which included supporters
of BCAGE, an Australian TV reporter announced that there was research,
indicating that up to 80 per cent of the revenue at some Australian
gambling establishments, came from a very small percentage of
clients, the problem gamblers.
Unless this research can be proved to be inaccurate,
we urge the Committee to recommend against any expansion of gambling
in the UK. We find it impossible to understand why any civilised
society would allow the advertising and promotion of a product
that is so damaging to society.
If it is true that half the revenue of an expanded
gambling industry will come from gambling addicts, that expansion
must not be encouraged. We have been unable to obtain any reliable
information on the average costs to UK society now of a typical
UK problem gambler. We urge the Committee to recommend the funding
of UK research into those costs. Differing research from the US
and Australia puts the cost of an average problem gambler from
$5,000 to $50,000 per year. That is plus the cost of treating
each problem gambler. There seems to be virtually no public or
gambling industry money used to fund UK problem gamblers treatment
The £3 million a year suggested by Budd
is a joke if you agree with G.A. that 1.5 million people in the
UK have some kind of problem now. Again if it is true that half
of expanded gambling revenue comes from problem gamblers the concept
of taxing gambling profits to fund the treatment of problem gamblers
is flawed. Virtually all of the tax revenue would have to be used
on treatment and on publicity campaigns to encourage relatives
to make problem gamblers seek treatment. There is a lot of evidence
that they are in denial for years.
If the treatment worked and all those affected
ceased gambling, the revenue of the gambling industry would be
halved. This would half the tax and put the industry back at the
level it is now. We urge the Committee to investigate this in
depth. There are strong indications that it will take ALL the
potential tax revenue from a relaxed gambling industry to pay
the true social costs that will result. There will be NO surplus
tax to fund general government requirements. Unless that is the
Government ignores the TRUE social costs of gambling as seems
to be the case in the US, Canada and Australia.
BCAGE do not want any existing gambling venue
closed down, we understand that if it is restricted too much,
it will go underground. We are a coalition of people with diverse
views; we do agree that the expansion of gambling should not be
encouraged. We oppose the gambling industry spin, which seeks
the name change to "gaming" and to have it described
in the media as "entertainment".
The author and main spokesman for BCAGE [Steven
Bate] would like to help the Committee in its detailed deliberations.
He regrets missing the deadline to offer verbal evidence to the
Committee and is shortly to establish the "International
Gambling Analysis Centre". If funding can be obtained this
will be able to assist the UK and possibly other European governments
on research and analysis of various changes to gambling regulations.
In case others do not suggest it, we would recommend
that the Committee read most of the material on the following
BCAGE could offer many more web pages of research
and experiences from places that have had Vegas style gambling
for some years. We will offer them on request, we note in the
guide for written evidence that you do not reprint material published
elsewhere. We hope you can publish the web address's above to
enable all interested persons to study the material on which we
make most of our case. We hope the committee agrees that what
is required, is UK based research to indicate how similar gambling
expansion will impact on various communities in the UK. We would
welcome assisting the committee in any way deemed suitable.
Here are the results of the recent local Gazette
Survey on casino proposals. Please bear in mind the Gazette has
run hundreds of features in favour of the casino proposals for
the previous two years.
1. In Principle, do you favour resort
casinos coming to Blackpool?
|Yes 46.5 per cent||No 45.9 per cent
||Not Sure 7.6 per cent|
2. Would you be in favour of resort casinos coming
to Blackpool if laws were changed to allow a gambling levy to
be used for a regeneration fund for the benefit of the community?
Yes 59.1 per cent
|No 40 per cent
||Not Sure 0.9 per cent|
3. Would you be in favour of resort casinos coming
to Blackpool without such a levy and without a regeneration fund?
Yes 18.2 per cent No 79.4 per cent Not Sure 2.4 per cent
4. Would you be in favour of resort casinos coming
to Blackpool if the town was given exclusive resort casino status
by the Government?
Yes 45.6 per cent
|No 51.5 per cent
||Not Sure 2.9 per cent |
5. Would you be in favour of resort casinos coming
to Blackpool if the Government sticks to its decision not to give
the town exclusive resort casino status?
Yes 42.1 per cent
|No 53.9 per cent
||Not Sure 4 per cent|
6. Do you think something must be done to regenerate
|Yes 98.2 per cent||No 1.8 per cent
7. Do you think resort casinos alone will regenerate
|Yes 14.4 per cent||No 84.1 per cent
||Not Sure 1.5 per cent|
8. What other facilities do you want to see in Blackpool's
masterplan for the future?
|Conference Centre ||Yes 86.5 per cent
|Extended shopping facilities ||Yes 90.3 per cent
|Family Entertainment Centre ||Yes 92.1 per cent
|Others in collective wish list no percentages offered|
Cleaner public toilets
Fines for litter bugs
Less alcohol culture
More children's entertainment
Build Snowdome [indoor ski centre]
Build Storm City [covered theme park]
Expand Pleasure Beach
Build Disney style attractions
Better transport and links
Better public areas
Build Olympic size swimming pool
Build bigger ice rink
More and cheaper or free car parking
Build concert venue
Better value entertainment
More modern, bigger, better value hotels
Build Eden Centre style attraction
Build large Department Store
Marina for yachts
Improve sea water quality
More coach excursions [to Lake district]
Change of Council
9. What concerns if any, do you have about resort
casinos coming to Blackpool?
| Crime ||61.2 per cent
| Gambling Addiction ||51.5 per cent
| Threat to Blackpool's family image
||54.7 per cent|
| Impact on small businesses ||52.6 per cent
| Other concerns, no percentages offered|
Effect on local youth
Would lose family image
Impact on residents
Profits would flow straight back out of town.
Feeling even more unsafe walking streets than do now
Higher council taxbecause of more police needed.
Public services stretched beyond limitpolice, fire, ambulance would be unable to cope.
Tacky image would be even worse
Poor employment prospectslowly paid, insecure jobs
Hit small hotelsmore would have to turn to stag and hen parties to compete.
Monopoly of resort casino wouldn't be good for town
Overloaded transport systems
Degeneration of valuesa community too focused on money.
10. Do you feel the Government report on gambling
alleviates those concerns?
|Yes 22.1 per cent||No 65.6 per cent
||Not Sure 12.3 per cent|
11. Would you gamble in a resort casino in Blackpool?
Yes 26.8 per cent
|No 64.7 per cent
||Not Sure 8.5 per cent|
12. Which of these do you want Blackpool to cater
for [some ignored the tick one category instructions]?
| Family Visitors ||70.3 per cent
| Conference Delegates ||21.3 per cent
| Stag and Hen Parties ||20.9 per cent
| Day Trippers ||12.1 per cent
Finally can we pass on news confirmed only this week that
one of our supporters has assisted the national conference of
the USDAW trade union to vote against the proposals for gambling
expansion and the concept of resort casinos. Also the Blackpool
and Fylde Coast branch of the Federation of Small Business has
voted against resort casinos and gambling expansion. The FSB will
discuss this in the region and then nationally. Our chairman Rev
Tim Widdess has also this week been informed that his proposal
to have the issue discussed at the national Methodist Church conference
has been accepted.
BCAGE has also received the support of 300 members of the
Blackpool Seasonal Traders Association and the 50 strong group,
representing pubs and nightclubs in Blackpool town centre.
Thank you for considering the evidence on the web pages above,
if you did.
2 May 2002