Resort set for £3.2m casino move

FELIXSTOWE may have struck it lucky with a £3.2million tourism boost.The resort could see a transformation of the Palace bingo and cinema complex into a 48-bedroom hotel with a casino and gymnasium if planning permission is given.

FELIXSTOWE may have struck it lucky with a £3.2million tourism boost.

The resort could see a transformation of the Palace bingo and cinema complex into a 48-bedroom hotel with a casino and gymnasium if planning permission is given.

Owners of the entertainment complex in Hamilton Road hope the new venture, which will include a refurbished bingo hall and reduction of the two cinemas in to one, will create a late night culture in the resort.

"It will be very, very customer friendly, easy access so that everything can be open maximum time," said Patrick Duffy, president of Palatial Leisure Ltd.


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The plans were submitted to Suffolk Coastal district council after a four-month delay because, it was said, details had to be ironed out between the architect and the company.

Mr Duffy said that the two had a difference of opinion because the architect wanted to draw up more of a lavish complex.

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"The architect drew up some wonderful plans of a place with four bars but Felixstowe does not need that," he said.

Phase one of the plans, which is the refurbishment of the bingo hall, will start immediately as the company does not need planning permission for interior changes. Palatial Leisure, who own 65 bingo halls in Britain, hopes the hall will be open again in eight or nine month's time.

The second phase will be based around the right hand side of the building, where the cinema currently is based. They plan to transform some of the area in to a casino and reduce the cinema from two screens to one and also double that up for use as conference facilities.

If the plans go ahead it will be the fist revamp for the complex since 1977 and will be a big boost for tourism in the resort.

But Mr Duffy added that it could help reduce vandalism in the town centre because there are not any businesses open until 2am in Hamilton Road and so the lack of night time activity in that area leaves shops and businesses vulnerable to attack. Mr Duffy said the new casino would attract more people to the area late at night and so help quell the recent spates of vandalism.

Mr Duffy said the planned hotel would fill a niche in Felixstowe's hotel market. He said there was a gap between budget hotels and four star hotels, which the new development would fill.

He said the rooms would be well fitted out so that the guests would be staying in comfortable and well-finished rooms but that there would not be the service seen in four star hotels. He compared the planned hotel to a Travelodge but with better quality rooms.

Some cynics have warned Mr Duffy that there would not be the demand for a casino nor another hotel at the resort, but although Mr Duffy admits that demand is not very high, he believes business is steady enough to make the new venture a success.

He said the casino would not be for high fliers who wanted to bet thousands of pounds - like that seen in gaming world capital Las Vegas - but it would cater for people who wanted a flutter on the tables and would spend on average between five and ten pounds.

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