No decision at casino summit

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AFTER a day of talks, a decision on the location of a casino in Milton Keynes has been delayed until next week.

The council’s licensing sub-committee met on Tuesday with representatives from gaming firm Aspers which presented the bid, and with objectors from citizens’ alliance Xplain and Central Milton Keynes Town Council.

Aspers’ bid currently identifies two possible locations – one in Xscape car park and one in the existing City Limits if the first is not accepted.

Linda Inoki, leader of Xplain, said that a casino in the centre could endanger vulnerable people and residents in the immediate area.

She said: “We are asking for the committee to minimise the risk this has on vulnerable people by rejecting this.

“We are not against a casino in Milton Keynes but it must be in a location that works.

“We feel at this stage, the council is better off choosing prevention rather than later trying to find a cure.”

Dr Rebecca Kurth, chairman of CMKTC, believes having a casino within walking distance of so many homes in Fishermead will increase the levels of impulse gambling.

“We have submitted a lot of evidence to show that location is a crucial element to problems with social gambling,” she said.

“We do not accept all locations are equal in this case. There are too many social implications with having the casino built at Xscape.”

Martin Heslop, QC for Aspers, downplayed concerns raised by Xplain and CMKTC, saying evidence produced was taken out of context and Milton Keynes was different to other places that already have casinos.

“There simply is not sufficient material to persuade the committee not to grant the location.

“Milton Keynes Council have admitted they have no preferred location, and it is important to note that, despite concerns about increased levels of crime, the police have not deemed it a significant risk, and nor have child protection groups.”

The meeting came to a close at 7pm, with the members announcing a decision would be made within the next five days.