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CONFERENCE TOWN CASINOS ON THE CARDS

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Seven new 'conference' town locations, easier access to membership and allowing limited advertising are among the c...
Seven new 'conference' town locations, easier access to membership and allowing limited advertising are among the casino deregulation proposals announced today by home office minister Timothy Kirkhope.

The proposals on location, membership, advertising, and slot machines are published in a consultation document on casino deregulation.

The main proposals would allow:

-- members of a casino to have immediate access to gaming facilities in other casinos within the same group

-- prospective members to apply by post rather than in person at the casino

-- advertisements giving the name, address, telephone number and limited factual information about the facilities available in a casino in non-national publications including newspapers and magazines

The permitted areas for casinos will be based on the list contained in the consultation document published in February this year. Peterborough and Croydon, whose councils did not wish to be included, are being invited to make further representations.

Additionally, the home office is consulting again on:

-- the provision for East London and the proposed inclusion of London Docklands

-- a limited number of areas in a conference town category - Bath, Eastbourne, Exeter, Harrogate, Norwich, Telford and York

On casino areas, Mr Kirkhope said:

'We remain satisfied that the criteria for permitted areas remain the best available. However, ministers have concluded that there is scope for adding a small number of additional areas in a conference town category.

'I have consulted widely before putting forward the measures in this document and in particular have liaised closely with the Gaming Board on the regulatory implications.'

Proposals on slot machines in casinos would allow:

-- casinos to have, for the first time, slot machines (as seen in casinos abroad) with unlimited stakes and payouts

-- up to three slot machines per gaming table. This would, for example, allow the largest casino in London at present to have up to 100 machines

Responses to the consultation document are requested by 31 January 1997.

-- The permitted areas proposed in the February consultation document were: Gloucester, Oxford, Hastings, Peterborough, Ipswich, Swindon, Croydon, Dartford, Redbridge, Slough, Folkestone, Morecambe and Weymouth.

-- Following the consultation in February a draft Deregulation (Casinos) Order has been laid to reduce the 48 hour membership waiting period to 24 hours and to allow licensing justices to grant liquor licence extensions to 2am in England and Wales (3am in London).

-- A draft Deregulation Order accepting debit (not credit) cards in casinos and bingo clubs, will be laid shortly.

-- Conference town selection criteria were based on areas with a capacity of over 5,000 places (in England or Wales) which are not already current or proposed permitted areas for casinos.

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