Are we seeing a resurgence in the UK’s casino sector?

Poker lingoPart of the regeneration of Birmingham – the UK’s second-largest city – has been the opening of a new super-casino.

It’s the first major casino opening in the UK for many years, despite plans announced by the UK government in 2005 for a major expansion in the number of casinos in operation around the country as part of the introduction of a new Gambling Act.

The plans were for 16 casinos to be opened – eight large casinos and eight small casinos.

In this article we take a look at how those plans for the expansion of the casino sector have played out, as well as discussing some of the complexities that prospective casino operators face in the UK.

Large casinos operating in the United Kingdom

Ultimately only three of the large casinos have opened.

Casino operator Aspers opened at Westfield shopping centre in East London in December 2011; Aspers also opened a casino in Milton Keynes in 2013. The casino opened in Birmingham in 2015 is operated by Genting’s Resorts World.

Plans for a massive casino in Manchester were dropped in 2007 after the development faced a public backlash.

Still in the works are plans for a casino in Great Yarmouth, one in Middlesborough, with discussions underway in Southampton where they are still searching for a casino operator to partner with on the project. A casino planned for Leeds is under construction; while plans for a casino in Hull have now been dropped.

Smaller casinos

The larger casinos that have been established across the UK complement an already vibrant network of smaller casinos in the major cities – there are over twenty small casinos operating in London, Glasgow has ten small casinos, and Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, and Edinburgh also have a number of smaller casinos in operation.

The complexity of local authorities

One of the challenges with the government plans for expanding the UK casino sector is that each local authority takes a slightly different approach when approving casino operators and assisting with funding and development incentives.

Where the projects have been successful, the casinos have the capability to generate significant revenue contributions for the local authority. This could be taken as an annual payment, an upfront payment, or a percentage of turn-over. This is additional revenue that the local authority can divert into other development work or job creation.

Casino critics

Critics of the expansion of the UK’s casino sector are concerned that local authorities will become dependent on the additional revenue that they are receiving from casino operators. These concerns are particularly relevant in an economic context where the national UK government is looking for expenditure reduction opportunities and is reducing the amount of funding provided to local authorities.

The casino sector in the United Kingdom continues to evolve and develop – there are a number of local authorities around the country who will be closely monitoring the performance of the new super-casino in Birmingham to see if it creates a revenue stream at the local level that could help transform the local community.

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