Resort casino could be years away

A CASINO for Felixstowe could be at least five years away, even if the resort's bingo hall is updated in a £3.2 million project.Patrick Duffy, managing director of Palatial Leisure, said he was not expecting a quick solution to the current debate over deregulation of the gaming industry.

A CASINO for Felixstowe could be at least five years away, even if the resort's bingo hall is updated in a £3.2 million project.

Patrick Duffy, managing director of Palatial Leisure, said he was not expecting a quick solution to the current debate over deregulation of the gaming industry.

Meanwhile, he has invited people to see the plans for his company's Palace bingo hall and cinema tomorrow and to attend an open meeting.

But in a letter delivered to hundreds of homes in the immediate area, Mr Duffy revealed that final decisions have not been made on important aspects of the scheme – a gym is one option, or conference facilities which may also be used as a cinema "if we feel there is commercial demand".

The only certainty appears to be the budget hotel, bar and restaurant – ready for the casino clientele to come.

The government has proposals which could see towns throughout Suffolk allowed to have casinos – and Palatial Leisure does not want to lose out if places open in Ipswich, Stowmarket, Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket.

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"It is not possible under present legislation to have a casino in Felixstowe as it is not a designated area and furthermore, even if that changed, it would be some five years away and then subject to licensing by what we think will be the local authority and the gaming commission," said Mr Duffy.

The main reason for the scheme for a 52-bedroom hotel, health and fitness club, bars, restaurant, and a bingo/entertainments complex was because the current building urgently needed refurbishment.

But in his letter, Mr Duffy said the new building would create a club ready for any facilities that new legislation might allow, such as roulette and black jack.

Responding to a letter sent to householders by the Felixstowe Town Centre Residents' Association, he said: "The facility would attract a business and family clientele and the last thing that either of these groups would tolerate would be noise caused by deliveries or other guests or staff.

"I do not know of a hotel that takes deliveries during the night and certainly we do not intend to."

Guests could park in the public car park opposite. This was reasonable as his business was one of the highest ratepayers in the town – but he omitted to say that no business rates come to Felixstowe and only go to central government.

Mr Duffy is inviting people to meet the architects and himself from 5pm to 6pm tomorrow at the bingo hall, followed by an open meeting at which people will be able to ask questions.

He was confident that when people saw the plans and had their fears allayed they would be happy to see the project go ahead.

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

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