A Word In Your Ear - September 8, 2011

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IT is very rare you will find me chuckling to myself – it’s just not my style.

But it appears Manchester is set to get its supercasino after all. Well I say super, depends really how you define the word.

If your dictionary reads ‘scantily clad women with bunny ears’ then you’re in for a treat.

A Playboy-themed casino is to be launched on Deansgate. Club bosses say the venture will be ‘classic’ and ‘stylish’. Yeah, and Peter Stringfellow is a modern day Mary Whitehouse.

It seems only yesterday Manchester was banging on about how it could bring gambling into the 21st century with the supercasino it nicked off us here in Blackpool.

Gordon Brown put paid to those ambitions in 2007, claiming there were better ways to regenerate Manchester and Blackpool than by allowing private enterprise to open Las Vegas-style gambling joints, complete with five star hotels and five star entertainment.

Fast forward just four short years and such nanny state tactics have been shown for what they were – naive in the extreme.

Look around at the high street and TV today and you would never know we had been saved from the threat of gambling.

Bookies are on virtually every street corner, while you cannot see the sweets behind newsagent’s counters for the 4ft high banks of scratch cards, or tickets for one of the many daily Lottery draws.

You cannot watch a live football match without Ray Winstone telling you the live odds on how to blow your mortgage on the outcome of the next throw in.

So we’ve all been saved from the deadly sin of betting then have we?

Today, rather than Blackpool and Manchester welcoming major stars and new investment to their stylish slices of Las Vegas, which remember would not have cost but actually earned the treasury big bucks, the only new casino story you will read is one which has the word Playboy attached to it.

Of course, bringing something so foreign to these shores was always going to be controversial, but I feel sad Blackpool’s unique regeneration generator was hijacked by those who used it for political gain.

Because really who has been saved?

Simon Cowell now has seven nights prime time to give away £7m on a glorified roulette spin.

The country will go Euromillions potty tomorrow night as the jackpot reaches £120m.

All the while Blackpool’s Central Car Park stands as a sad testament to what might have been.

The only silver lining arrived today in the shape of the resort’s new supertrams.

Let’s not kid ourselves here. The Government came forward with the cash for this off the back of some hard talk by our MPs and a campaign by this newspaper for the resort to be given a fair crack of the whip post-supercasino disaster.

It’s just a shame when the trams come to stop near Bonny Street, punters will not be getting off to see a bold new five-star attraction complete with Tony Bennett or Shirley Bassey on stage. I suppose they can always bet on the 3.45 at Kempton via their mobiles.

And that does not make me chuckle to myself.