Bognor Regis could gamble on a casino to boost economy

Gamblers could find themselves placing bets at a casino in Bognor Regis.

The prospect of one of the businesses helping to regenerate the town has been raised by councillors.

They agreed to be kept informed of developments in the gambling industry in response to a request from the National Casino Industry Forum.

But the council’s licensing committee members at last Friday’s (February 17) meeting declined to answer to a question to say if they were interested in the area hosting a casino.

Cllr Barbara Oakley (Middleton) said it was important the council kept an open mind about the arrival of a casino. “We should not be slamming the door on this idea. It certainly needs to be discussed by the regeneration committee.

“There is an argument you can use a casino as a regeneration ploy.

“You could argue you could drop the miniplex idea from the Regis Centre redevelopment idea and use a casino instead. It would solve everybody’s problems,” she said.

She pointed out a casino might also suit Butlin’s in the ongoing improvement of its site in Bognor.

She said: “This is the sort of thing they might be interested in. It could appeal to a large number of their customers.

“We should not respond to any specific questions from the forum but we should ask to be receive further information when it becomes available.

“If we do get an application in, we will then know how to deal with it.”

Cllr Alan Gammon (Brookfield) said: “I don’t know if a casino is a good thing or a bad thing. I don’t think they are wonderful but some people like them and we have to keep our options open.”

Cllr Tony Squires (Ham) said: “We have got these developments going on in Bognor and Littlehampton. There might be a demand for a casino in them. We don’t know.”

Forum chief executive Malcolm Moss told Arun in a letter: “All the evidence suggests casinos can be significant drivers of employment and investment, attracting both consumers and other leisure and retail operators to an area.”

He estimated a casino would employ 100-200 staff and provide further work through supply contracts and adding value to the surrounding economy.

He said modern casinos were usually developed alongside hotels as part of a tourist hub. The limited number of casinos meant they often attracted customers from a wide area.

“These extra consumers drive up footfall and have a beneficial effect on other local businesses and the night-time economy,” he stated.

He said ‘a number of councils’ had been approached to find out the level of interest around the country.