Casino project gets underway

WORK is under way on a £3.2 million project to transform Felixstowe's bingo hall in to a major entertainments complex and casino as today government announced a shake-up of the gambling laws.

WORK is under way on a £3.2 million project to transform Felixstowe's bingo hall in to a major entertainments complex and casino as today government announced a shake-up of the gambling laws.

The massive scheme at the resort will feature a health and fitness club, bars, restaurant, as well as the bingo/entertainments complex

Later phases will include a 52-bedroom hotel on the building's car park, and a casino if the proposed law changes allow it.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell published the new Gambling Bill today which will allow slot machines and roulette tables to appear in bingo halls and betting shops, and casinos to operate around the clock.

But opponents fear there will be an explosion in the number of casinos and warn the move could lead to a huge rise in the number of people in the UK whose lives are ruined by gambling addiction.

Every town is expected to have a casino and Felixstowe will not want to be left behind once the new laws are agreed - and will want to encourage people to stay and play in the town, instead of going off to Ipswich or Colchester.

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The casino will not need planning consent, only a gaming licence. Such a venture will be for members only and aimed at mature adults, and will not be like London casinos and will not stay open until 4am.

Scaffolding has now gone up around the Palace and contractors are taking off the outside masonry "skin" of the building ready to give it a new, modern look.

Other work will also be taking place inside the premises with the aim of creating a first-class venue.

Managing director of owners Palatial Leisure, Patrick Duffy has assured residents the project will still have a cinema - though this will be a single screen in future in a room which could be adapted for conference use.

The plans to create a major entertainments complex and hotel at the premises at the corner of Crescent Road and Cobbold Road were agreed after a series of negotiations to try to limit the impact of the project on nearby residents.

Palatial Leisure has been investing in similar facilities in Gorleston and Great Yarmouth and Mr Duffy believes the hotel and its extra facilities will provide an enormous boost to the resort, helping the economy of the town centre and providing another attraction.

Residents had voiced concerns about noise and disturbance, but Mr Duffy feels CCTV and a hotel with night-time duty staff will boost security in the town centre. Guests would not cause noise as this would harm the hotel business.

n What do you think? Write to Your Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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