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Regen efforts follow super-casino axe

Moves to regenerate areas which vied to host Britain's first Las Vegas-style super-casino will be unveiled today as the Government formally abandons the controversial plan.

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham is expected to confirm the decision to go ahead with 16 large regional casinos but drop the proposed huge gambling venue in a statement to MPs this afternoon.

It comes eight months after Gordon Brown declared regeneration might be a better way forward than building a supercasino at one of his first appearances as Prime Minister.

Communities secretary Hazel Blears will publish a review of alternative measures and set out specific measures aimed at improving parts of Manchester and Blackpool.

Manchester fought off stiff competition from Blackpool and the Millennium Dome in Greenwich when it won the right to host the UK's first supercasino in January last year.

The plans were projected to bring in some £265 million investment to a deprived part of the city and up to 2,700 direct and indirect jobs.

But the scheme was put on ice months later when peers rejected it by just three votes and was then deemed 'dead in the water' by Whitehall insiders following Mr Brown's remarks.

The large regional casinos allowed to provide up to 150 slot machines offering jackpots of up to £4,000 are expected to be approved in Leeds, Southampton, Great Yarmouth, Middlesbrough, Solihull, Hull, Milton Keynes and Newham, London.

Smaller casinos are expected to be given the go-ahead in Somerset, Dumfries and Galloway, Scarborough, Wolverhampton, Swansea, Luton, Torbay and East Lindsey, Lincs.

Manchester MPs reacted with anger when the plans for a super-casino in the city were abandoned by Mr Brown and a city business chief said it was 'little short of madness'.

Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ``After seven months of dithering, the Government's gambling policy is a mess.

"The original decision on the supercasino now appears to be about nothing more than headlines as the Government has pretty much nothing in the cupboard to tackle the growing social evil of problem gambling."

Confirming the announcement was due today, Mr Brown's spokesman said: "There is a huge difference in scale in terms of gambling opportunities in a super-casino and smaller casinos.

"What we said was we would work up alternative regeneration packages which did not rely on a super-casino."