In the United Kingdom, Chelmsford City Racecourse has unveiled a $61.53 million plan that would see the Essex venue open and casino and be permitted to host up to ten outdoor music festivals a year.
According to a report from the local Braintree And Witham Times newspaper, the plan would involve redeveloping part of the thoroughbred horseracing venue’s east grandstand to make way for a casino while about two-thirds of its infield would be utilized for outside concerts.
“This is an exciting project that will create more than 100 jobs,” read a statement from retail sportsbetting operator Done Brothers (Cash Betting) Limited, which is the majority stakeholder in the venue some eight miles north of Chelmsford in the small village of Great Leighs. “It’s a substantial investment in the race track, providing under cover facilities as many race goers demand. We hope the plans are given the go-ahead and we can bring a higher standard of races to Chelmsford.”
Neil Gulliver, the member of Chelmsford City Council responsible for planning and economic development, told the newspaper that he is largely in favor of the proposed project as it would offer increased employment opportunities.
“Broadly speaking, I welcome any development that creates employment in the city of Chelmsford,” Gulliver told the newspaper. “To keep up with the growing population of the city we must create about 700 jobs each year. I think the casino development will be a popular addition to the employment and leisure scene in the city. I think that casinos are part of most major cities today and it is important to have choice.”
If approved and built, the casino at Chelmsford City Racecourse would lie just over 50 miles from the nation’s largest such establishment, the Aspers Casino Westfield Stratford City just east of London, while the Grosvenor Casino Luton would be approximately 56 miles away. This proximity has reportedly prompted stark warnings from Ian Semel, an ex-gambling addict and founder of local gambling counselling service Breakeven.
“I’m no party-pooper and I believe there is nothing wrong with gambling if you gamble responsibly but it’s a numbers game,” Semel told the Braintree And Witham Times. “The more time people spend gambling the more chance there is in developing a problem and the more people who gamble then the more people who will develop a problem.”
In response, Gulliver declared that such concerns “will be something for the licensing committee to discuss” although he did not believe “this will encourage more people to gamble”.