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January 31, 2007

A church divided

Britain’s religious establishment thinks gambling is a Bad Thing:

Church campaigners have condemned Manchester’s victory in super-casino race for ‘creating crippling debts and undermining efforts to tackle child poverty in the city.’
Manchester based national charity, Church Action on Poverty, condemned today’s announcement that the UK’s first super-casino will be in Manches-
ter as a ‘threat to worsen the city’s already poor record on debt and child poverty.’
Niall Cooper, national coordinator of Church Action on Poverty, and vice-chair of the Debt on our Doorstep network said: “Only last week Save the Children reported that Manchester has one of the worst records for child poverty in the country. Locating the UK’s first super-casino in East Manchester—one of the poorest areas of the city—runs the risk of worsening the city’s already poor record on tackling child poverty. Many families across the city are already struggling to make ends meet—the super casino is likely to tip many over the edge into crippling and unsustainable debt.”
“Far from stimulating the regeneration of the area, a super casino in East Manchester could create a rise in debt, gambling addicts, crime, debt and homelessness. Recent research from Australia suggests that relaxing gambling laws has led to an increase in homelessness, problem gambling and other social problems. The council talks about it bringing jobs and tourism but regeneration is not to be welcomed at any cost.”

Except where it’s a Good Thing:

[A] senior Church of England Bishop has said that Blackpool should have been chosen to host Britain’s first Las Vegas-style super-casino.
The Bishop of Blackburn’s comments came after the announcement that Manchester had won the licence—beating Blackpool and London’s former Millennium Dome, which were the bookmakers’ favourites.
… The Rt Rev Nicholas Reade called yesterday (Tuesday) for new regional and national government aid packages to revive Blackpool, following the “huge disappointment” of its failure to gain a super-casino.
“It’s very clear that Blackpool is already struggling in terms of employment and health,” said the Bishop, whose diocese includes the Lancashire resort.
… “This decision seems to me to be a great missed opportunity. If Blackpool could reclaim its favourite holiday resort status, people would flock there for their holidays, rather than hurtling themselves across the sea by air, with all the consequent damage to the environment.”
Super-casino development promised up to 2,500 jobs, “and it would have gone a long way towards alleviating poverty,” the Bishop said. “Our hearts go out to the people of Blackpool.”

Or Manchester. Or wherever.

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