Frontlines: super casinos and gambling

One of our team of practitioner columnists gives her take on super casinos and gambling

So Manchester has the dubious honour of housing Britain’s first super casino. As somebody who lives in Sheffield, one of the other contenders for the privilege, I can safely say they are welcome to it.

A professor of gambling predicted this result ahead of favourites Blackpool and the Millennium Dome, as there is a sufficiently large population nearby of people who aren’t too well off but might like to be.

Now, I don’t have much truck with gambling on that scale. It can become an addiction that destroys lives. It seems obscene that it is being promoted as a regenerative venture to create the Las Vegas of the UK.

I’m not an anti-gambling fanatic or a killjoy. I’m not totally against gambling. I was in a National Lottery syndicate at my last job, but we never won.

I also believe that the Lottery funds some rather odd things. I’m a regular theatre-goer, but I don’t see why some single parent in Rotherham with an addiction to scratch cards should subsidise my Shakespeare.

When I was a city councillor it seemed to be part of the job description to buy a lot of raffle tickets at every meeting I attended. Tenants’ associations, schools, community groups everyone was fundraising. I used to win quite a lot.

They had useful prizes, like groceries. The thing about raffles though is that when you win it’s over. You go home happy with your tin of biscuits. You’re not tempted to risk it for a Dundee cake and a large box of PG Tips. Hardly super casino stuff.

My parents’ generation had a good approach to gambling. Good old Premium Bonds as a (possible) investment that they could always cash in, and the pools. They are both still relatively popular of course, but the generation of older relatives who would buy Premium Bonds for each new baby in the family seems to be dying off.

And the pools brings back memories of three generations crowded round the television on a Saturday afternoon, after the wrestling but before Dr Who, marking off their sheets to “Forfar 4, East Fife 5” read in the old Auntie BBC accent.

This was gambling for a more innocent era. Slot machines were for rainy days at the seaside, not everyday in the city as part of a super casino.

Jennifer Harvey is a carer and works with people with learning difficulties

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