Bishop in battle over super casino for city

Monday 18th January 2021

And now the Bishop of Southampton, Reverend Canon Jonathan Frost, has urged politicians to ensure companies applying to run the venue take measures to curb problem gambling.

The city council is one of eight authorities given a licence to develop a casino housing up to 150 slot machines and companies are currently bidding to develop the Royal Pier site.

But Rev Frost told a full council meeting last night: "We may feel that the benefits of regeneration need to be seized but we need the evidence to make good judgements about social costs. We live in networks and problem gamblers and their families are vulnerable to social problems, mental illness and relationship breakdown and debt."

He added: "I want the council to look again while they have the chance to tweak it so that Southampton City Council is known for its robustness and its good decisions going forward."

He also called for measures to ensure debt counselling charities can gain extra funding through the scheme.

Council solicitor Richard Ivory stressed the panel interviewing applicants includes representatives from the Primary Care Trust and debt counselling services and added: "We have the expertise to ask questions of them." Councillors unanimously agreed a motion put forward by Cllr Peter Baillie ensuring an impact study on problem gamblers is carried out.

Council leader Cllr Richard Williams said: "We want to engage in this sensibly. The more we can engage with as many stakeholders as possible the better. "We feel it's appropriate to bring this proposal forward and hope it has the feedback from councillors."

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