Blackpool to be the British version of Las Vegas or Atlantic City?

Elias Hubbard
October 25, 2019

It remains one of the most famous seaside resorts in Britain, catering to the bucket and spade brigade for many generations. Like many coastal towns around the country, Blackpool suffered a decline in visitors, particularly after cheap package holidays to the Mediterranean became popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Nevertheless, the Lancashire seaside town does appear to be undergoing something of a recovery in recent years.

According to the Guardian in 2018, local business and council leaders were upbeat and positive about Blackpool’s future, in the midst of a strong summer season and with the sun shining brightly. However, there was also a clear acknowledgment that even with new attractions at the Pleasure Beach, along with plans to improve other important facilities around the town, much more still needed to be done to boost the local tourism economy.

Talk of turning Blackpool into the British equivalent of Las Vegas is hardly new, given that such discussion has been around for almost two decades. Indeed, the relaxation of gambling laws in 2003 brought proposals for a £1bn development plan, with a 500-acre site chosen for the construction of four casino resort hotels. The plans also envisaged a huge new entertainment complex, accompanied by conference facilities and an arena complex for events.

Some comparisons were made to the New Jersey coastal town of Atlantic City in the USA, which underwent a hugely successful transformation back in the 1980s. Now generating around £300m a year in tax revenues from the casino resorts, clearly, Blackpool would very much benefit from being in a similar situation as it’s American counterpart in 2019.

Since 2003, when the first ambitious plans emerged for Blackpool, the online casino industry has boomed which has naturally led to more attention in their more traditional counterparts, so any potential developments in Blackpool are set to benefit from this. The competition in the online industry has led to sites specialising in different areas with the wide range of online slots from Space Casino being an example of this, but there is still a desire for a traditional experience from a land-based casino which Blackpool could take advantage of.

It appears that casino resort plans for Blackpool aren’t completely dead. Indeed, they appear to be soaring again like a seagull in flight, after a June 2019 Sun report highlighted initial talks to bring Britain’s first-ever super-casino to the town. While there would be strict regulation surrounding any such proposals, operators bidding for licences have underlined assurances that such an investment would be a massive boost to the local economy.

Should anything come of these proposals, there is the genuine prospect of millions being pumped into education and skills training, not to mention the potential for thousands of new jobs for local residents, along with much-needed improvements to local infrastructure and travel networks. Although some traditionalists oppose any super-casino plans, there’s no doubt the overall impact would be largely positive, putting Blackpool firmly into the 21st century.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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