local politician involved with culture and tourism responded: "I don't think that's a problem we need to worry about."
Southend could be home to three casinos by the end of next year – and the town’s traders and leaders are betting it will be a formula for success. Yesterday, the Echo revealed Rank Group, which runs Grosvenor Casinos, wants to open a new gambling hub in the Palace Hotel.
If it is approved by Southend Council, the plan would create a third casino on the seafront, with the new Rank venue slotting in between Maxims, in Western Esplanade, and Rendezvous, at the Kursaal.
But far from fearing the addition could turn Southend into the Las Vegas of the south-east, with all the associated drinking and antisocial behaviour problems, council leaders believe it would be an excellent move for the town.
Derek Jarvis, the Tory councillor responsible for culture and tourism, said: “I don’t think that’s a problem we need to worry about. “The seafront is a good location for another casino. There’s plenty of room and it will attract more visitors. It is fairly common for towns to develop ‘quarters’ which specialise in a certain form of entertainment, and gambling is just that – entertainment.”
Jonathan Garston, the Tory councillor responsible for planning, said: “I don't think just opening another casino will make our town become a ‘gambling town’, and added:“By opening another casino, it is not going to create more gamblers. It is simply going to attract people to the town from a wider catchment area.
“The current casinos are very well-run and, as a councillor, I don’t have any complaints about antisocial behaviour, which can be the case for other late-night venues,” he pointed.
Although Rank still has to secure a permit from the Gambling Commission and an alcohol licence from Southend Council before it can press ahead, it hopes to keep the new casino open 24 hours a day.
Simon Patterson, chairman of the Seafront Traders’ Association, said the constant flow of customers in and out of the venue would give a significant boost to other businesses on the Golden Mile. He added: “I have no fears about it at all. “It would be good for the seafront and the High Street, and it would also add another high-class establishment to the area. That can’t be a bad thing.”