Embargo: 10:00am Tuesday 20 March 2007

Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659


The House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee has today warned that the Government's proposals to allow the licensing of a new regional casino in Manchester may fail in its objective to provide an accurate assessment of the social impact of that casino.

The Government has previously made clear that the ability to assess the social impact of any new casino should be a crucial factor in deciding its location. For this reason it set the need to provide the ' best possible test of social impact' as the Casino Advisory Panel's key criterion in selecting where to site the new casinos allowed under the Gambling Act 2005.

In evidence to the Committee the Minister, Mr Richard Caborn, said:

"We have set up these pilot projects to see how we can measure the effects both in terms of social impact and economic regeneration. That is why they are pilots. That is why we have 17."

The Merits Committee points to the paragraph in the Panel's own report which says that in the case of Manchester it would be extremely difficult to trace the city-wide social impact of a new casino in such a large city region. In awarding them the regional casino the Panel argued that this would not be the case for East Manchester as in that very deprived sector of the city the social impact would be easier to trace.

However the terms of the legislation allow the chosen local authorities, to site the regional casino anywhere within their boundaries. This means Manchester City Council may choose to develop a site other than the one in East Manchester on which its bid focussed. This seems to undermine the Government's key policy that the site of the new casino should provide the best possible test of social impact. The Committee comment that similar concerns could apply to other bids which also focussed on a specific site, for example Solihull and Wolverhampton.

In addition, the Merits Committee's report points out that, while the Gambling Act stressed the importance of minimising the harm from gambling caused by the new casinos, the evidence the Committee heard from the Panel Chairman, Professor Stephen Crow, made clear that this was not a high priority in the selection criteria.

In its report on the draft Gambling (Geographical Distribution of Casino Premises Licences) Order 2007 the Merits Committee draw attention to both these issues, so that the House of Lords may give them due consideration when debating the Order on 28 March. In particular the Merits Committee states that the uncertainty over the ability to properly trace the impacts of the regional casino means that the Order " may imperfectly achieve its policy objectives".

Notes to Editors

1. The Committee report is published by The Stationery Office as HL Paper 67. Both it and Volume II of the report, which includes all the written evidence the Committee received, is available online at:

2. The Committee took oral evidence from Richard Caborn MP, Minister of State at DCMS and Professor Stephen Crow CB, Chairman of the Casino Advisory Panel on 13 March 2007. A transcript of this session is included in the report. The Casino Advisory Panel's Final Report is available from

3. The House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee was established in 2003 and began work in April 2004. Its task is to examine each statutory instrument presented to the House and to draw to attention any which deal with matters of significant public policy interest or show defects in certain areas - e.g. that they do not appear to meet their declared policy objectives or seek to implement EU legislation in an inappropriate manner.

4. The current members of the Merits Committee are :

Lord Filkin (Chairman)

Baroness Adams of Craigielea

Lord Armstrong of Ilminster

Viscount Colville of Culross

Baroness Deech

Viscount Eccles

Lord James of Blackheath

Lord Jopling

Baroness Maddock

Baroness Thomas of Winchester

Lord Tunnicliffe

For copies of the report or to request an interview with Lord Filkin, Please contact Owen Williams, Lords Press Officer, on 020 7219 8659.