Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Local group petitions Downing Street over Dome casino?

We've just been sent a link to an e-petition on Downing Street's website which is protesting at the plans for a casino located in the Dome (officially now called O2). The petition states:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ensure that the new regional casino goes where local people have been fully consulted and both want and need a regional casino. Greenwich and south-east London does not want one.

The people of Greenwich and south-east London have not been asked whether or not they want the UK's regional casino located in Greenwich. There has been no public debate; attempts by local stakeholders to express views against the "supercasino" have been quashed. Yet it appears that the supercasino is about to be forced upon them by Government, the Anschutz Entertainment Group, and Greenwich Council, in the O2 (Millennium Dome).

Large casinos attract organised crime and cause family break-up, and the cost to the local community of a large casino is nearly double any short-term benefits that it might bring. South and East London Against The Casino (SELAC) represents all those local people, probably the majority, who would rather the regional casino went where it is wanted. It is not wanted here in south-east London. Greenwich desperately needs real wealth-creation initiatives, and the only people who make money out of casinos are the casino operators.
There are currently 13 signatures including that of a local Imman.

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Anonymous greezy pimp said...

This smacks to me of the same rhetoric that Indigo has been spouting on here for months. I especially like the way they take a potential threat based on surveys done in other countries repeat it often enough and then report it as fact.
"Large casinos attract organised crime and cause family break-up" (no in my/our opinion or a referenced survey quoted) "and the cost to the local community of a large casino is nearly double any short-term benefits that it might bring" ( again no evidence to back up this sweeping statement) "South and East London Against The Casino (SELAC) represents all those local people, probably the majority, who would rather the regional casino went where it is wanted" (presumption that everyone in the area agrees with them when they haven't bothered consulting people either) "It is not wanted here in south-east London." (another sweeping statement made to sound like researched fact) "Greenwich desperately needs real wealth-creation initiatives, and the only people who make money out of casinos are the casino operators." (not true the inland revenue and local authority do very nicely out of it too.)
I personally don't know enough about what's going on at the dome but I am not going to sign a petition that is as badly constructed and misrepresentative as the original council documents.

1:54 pm  
Blogger Indigo said...

Dear Greasy Pimp

With petitions on the No 10 web site, there is a word-limit. Hence no space for quoted sources. However, all the evidence that anyone could possibly want will be included on the SELAC web site, due to go live by the end of the week.

Remember, folks: money spent at a casino is money down the drain.

21 signatures at the time of writing.

9:11 pm  
Anonymous andrew said...

greezy, you're very welcome to comment on my version of the argument, which is on my blog at http://www.gambier.cc/?q=node/185 (sorry you'll have to register... I got fed up with the spambots abusing anonymous comments). Or you can e-mail me - the address is on my website too. Or you can probably debate it here - I'm sure GreenwichWatch would be happy to thrash out such a topical local issue.

10:31 am  
Anonymous Bob said...

Lets shut down the all the bookies too and have a return to the days of gun-toting illegal bookies eh?

What a load of rubbish, just coz a local immam has signed it why would that make me more likely to sign - after all, isn't organised religion also organised crime?

I think the casino is a good idea, OK the casino is the one the makes the profit but people still play fruit machines in pubs dont they and they're no different.

At the end of the day, the dome is getting some use and local people will be getting some employment. This is surely better than leaving the place empty? If you dont like casinos then dont go in one.

11:22 am  
Blogger greenwich.watch said...

Andrew, we're more than happy to let people have a slanging match.

11:51 am  
Anonymous andrew said...

Bob, I agree - casinos are no different to fruit machines. And therefore if you believe you can regenerate that part of Greenwich with a casino then I guess you also believe that you can do so using fruit machines (joke!).

I believe that fruit machines are regulated so as to have a fixed payout rate. That's the amount that the machine pays out as a percentage of what it takes in. It's always less than 100% (otherwise the operator would go bankrupt). Where is the value added here? All you have done is taken some money from someone, kept some of it, and then given the rest back. Some fortunate souls may, temporarily, win more than they have paid in but this requires, necessarily, that there are many many more suckers who paid in more than they took out.

Remember - and this is very important - there is no value creation in building a casino. You have taken money from gamblers and then shared it out differently. The regeneration of the peninsula by means of the supercasino is therefore at best predicated on impoverishing other parts of the country. At worst it will be achieved by inflicting misery on many thousands of our own residents, at enormous cost to our welfare benefits and social care systems.

No doubt someone will mention the shops, the arena and other exhibition spaces that will be created as part of the casino. That's great. Let's just have those and shelve any idea of the casino. The casino is value-destroying and any other, value-creating, projects should be justified on their own.

12:36 pm  
Blogger Indigo said...

I'll ignore Bob's silly conflation of crime with religion because I want to hasten on to congratulating him for supply the second FUSS on the new web site. (FUSS = Frequently Used/Uttered Specious Statements) I couldn't attribute it to you, Bob, much as I would have liked to, for reasons of data protection compliance. But effusive thanks, anyway.

2:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in East Greenwich – very much in the catchment for the Casino. I used to be addicted to fruit machines when I was a teenager. I am dreading the casino opening. I could avoid it, but I would like to visit the other attractions. I hope my past addiction doesn’t get the better of me.

9:50 pm  
Anonymous greezy pimp said...

you make a lot of points in you post but I'm not sure of the validity of them. Your objections seem to be largely on a moral basis and the protection of the weak who are unable to control their own financial situation, that's very noble but akin to the nanny state that this government has pushed on us with alarming regularity since the start of it's first term.

I'm all for open debate on this issue in spite of the fact I have no personal interest, I don't gamble myself, but defend the right of others to do so. This is adult entertainment take part or don't but don't stop someone else enjoying it, because you think they are not mature enough to control their needs. Betting shops, race tracks and now internet casinos are a part of our life and in my opinion the potential for people to get into financial dire straits is far greater with them than a well run members only casino with the eyes of the local and national governments on them.

I'd rather see a multiuse entertainment centre built at that end of the peninsula than more of those architecturally hideous, poorly made, overpriced buy to let houses that would be put up in its place, offering as little if not less value to real people from the borough than a casino.

By the way Indigo its Greezyonly my mother calls me Greasy!

10:00 am  
Blogger Indigo said...

Greezy, you haven't done any reading around on this at all - you haven't exercised ze leetle grey cells to make yourself better informed - have you? Your post is that of someone who has sat back and uncritically swallowed the Council/AEG propaganda, hook line and sinker.

Your stance is that of someone whose thinking on this matter has not evolved since the 1960s. But I will use some of your statements on the SELAC site, on the FUSS page.

I hope that you are not a Councillor, of whatever colour. I don't know why but I am suddenly reminded of the fact that, in the US, Senators passed the Patriot Act into law without reading it.

10:38 am  
Anonymous greezy pimp said...

Indigo no I'm not a councillor of any flavour, I am however very suspicious of your motives I've read your posts about this issue since you started your crusade and it all seems a bit fishy to me. I think you are either
1.) An 'out borough' type who has moved here bought property and now wish to protect and cocoon your investment from any potential threat
2.) A religious nut trying to defend us from the evils of the world.

Which ever it is, I really don't like your superior attitude whenever someone disagrees with you. Not using my "grey cells to make myself better informed", how rude and arrogant can you get and when Bob voiced an opinion yesterday its dismissed with "I'll ignore Bob's silly conflation of crime with religion because I want to hasten on to congratulating him for supply the second FUSS on the new web site. (FUSS = Frequently Used/Uttered Specious Statements" no doubt accompanied by the smuggest grin. Just because some people are FOR the casino or just don't care either way, doesn't make them wrong or ignorant or naïve it simply means they have a different opinion to you.

12:41 pm  
Anonymous Bob said...

Indigo are you unaware of how the catholic church has been a safe haven for paedophiles for many years? Are you aware that warmongers like Bush and Blair are devout christians. I know I digress but please do not try to dismiss my point with infantile flippancy. I repeat, just because a local Immam has signed a petition does not make it any more worthy of signing.

As for you opinion of the casino I guess you didn't read my post properly. I said "If you dont like casinos then dont go in one".

I'm well aware that gambling can be addictive but I consider it much the same as other vices. Time and time again its been shown that prohibition simply does not work. We still have street prostitution and illegal drug dealing on the streets in greenwich borough - perhaps you'd like the gun-toting illegal bookies and underground gambling dens back too?

People who want to gamble will do it - regardless of legality or the availablity of a casino. I'd at least like to see a few people from greenwich with the legal job of collecting the gamblers money.

Finally, since you seem so adept at handing out web awards I'd like to nominate you as a massive NOB (Narcissistic Opinionated Bore).

1:33 pm  
Blogger Indigo said...

Greezy: not a "crusade", neither mine nor anyone else's. I assume that you are a suspicious sort, full stop. You don't appear to be interested in having any sort of debate.

Your numbered paragraph 1. made me laugh out loud: yea, I wish. And as for 2., you'll have to define "religious nut": is that "religious nut" as in G W Bush? 'Cos I am no fundie.

2:17 pm  
Anonymous andrew said...

Greezy - if only I were that noble. Actually I'm thoroughly selfish. I don't want people squandering their money on casinos because it will lead to them coming to me (a taxpayer) to bail them out. My argument isn't moral, it's economic and essentially amoral.

The casino will mean more deprivation - probably in Greenwich, but certainly somewhere - in response to which the Government will eventually indirectly or directly react. That will mean more of my taxes going to prop up people who are too weak and/or stupid to realise that casinos are a zero sum game in which the casino and the Government will always win and the average guy will always lose.

This wouldn't be a problem if we had no welfare state. But we do, and therefore as a net funder of it I have every right to seek to play nanny. Sure, adults can do adult things, but only if they are prepared to live with the consequences. That cannot be guaranteed with the casino and I therefore completely oppose it. Remember again, casinos don't generate any new money, so any money being taken away by AEG or central government must come from ordinary people elsewhere.

Your points on the architectural qualities of what Inspector Sands used to refer to as "LegoLand" are spot on, though!

3:22 pm  
Anonymous greezy pimp said...

I admire your honesty Andrew but I don't see how this casino could possible increase your tax burden one iota. The social problems it may create will be no worse than several bookmakers on every High St accompanied by a string of pubs selling cut price beer to the masses all day.

I fully understand that any owner operator will take the lion share of the money it generates and I don't doubt they'll have a dodge or two when it comes to the tax man but it could create a lot of work for local people, a lot of revenue for the local council and a lot of money for the Inland revenue. So potentially it could reduce your personal tax burden by some degree.

The problem here is there has been no public consultation which is par for the course with Greenwich council, but as I said in my original post this pressure group are making the same mistakes putting out sketchy information and asking people to support there cause, I feel they should be holding public meetings highlighting the potential problems and getting feed back from the wider community, handing out flyers and generally showing Greenwich council how it should be done.

4:36 pm  
Anonymous andrew said...

Greezy, with respect to your second paragraph: that's precisely the problem. Yes, jobs will be created. But how are these jobs paid for? Any jobs in the casino will be paid for out of losses suffered by punters.

The economic justification got criticised by the Casino Advisory Panel because they presented construction jobs as "permanent" when clearly they're only temporary until the casino is built. And those too will ultimately be funded out of losses suffered by punters.

Yes, there will be some 'real' jobs there - hotels, restaurants and shops. So let's see a proper redevelopment predicated on real regeneration, not smoke and mirrors and bad accounting like we're currently being served.

The Council supports the casino because they think that the costs will fall disproportionately on other boroughs. Central Government supports the casino because they think they can sweep any resulting social problems under the carpet and forget about them. I'm too pragmatic for that - ultimately taxpayers will end up paying one way or another, whether through increased welfare costs, increased crime, greater bank defaults or other means. The casino simply isn't the magic bullet solution to local regeneration that it's made out to be.

4:58 pm  
Blogger greenwich.watch said...

Just want to say, great discussion people. Keep it up.

5:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marketing of the casino will be ruthless and relentless and will target C2, D & E groups; shuttle coaches will be run from as far away as Dartford and Gravesend. The 'casino' will be as down market, tacky and vulgar as anyone's worst imaginings. The advertising message will be simple - the promise of instant wealth from gambling. Not the reality that wealth comes from hard work and education.

The big 'slots' palaces in Vegas all have rubber floors. Women with popcorn buckets of quarters will mount a stool and play 'their' slot machine without break for hours on end, fearful that should they take a toilet break someone else will nip in to nab their jackpot ... true.

All that this casino promises is to increase poverty, child abuse, family breakup, health problems - and create a new river of piss running into the Thames from under the tent as thousands of bingo-winged social housing tenants cling stubbornly to their stools.

9:39 am  
Blogger Indigo said...

a new river of piss

Ewww. But I find this entirely believable.

Going by what happens in the US, the casino will run free buses within the Borough, picking up people who have just collected their unemployment benefit and family credit. You know, "don't say that you going home now to sit alone watching the telly - when you come with us and have some free food and drink and a flutter Yeah, why sit at home when you could win the unlimited jackpot today?". Never mind that you are more likely to be hit by an asteroid than win the unlimited jackpot.

Gambling is not glamorous.

8:36 pm  
Anonymous The truth hurts said...

73 people have now signed which means approx 228,027 people in the borough (assuming all the signatories are Greenwich residents) haven't.

C'mon Indigo, stop presuming you've a clue what Greenwich people think. Who elected you anyway?

10:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Them working classes better not be allowed to open a can of beans cause they might cut themselves.

The casino debate does half get patronising towards people who the chattering classes regard as not being bright enough to make there own minds up.

9:57 am  
Blogger Indigo said...

@ the truth hurts:

The petition has been on-line for one week and has so far been advertised only by word of mouth/e-mail on personal networks! Also, by no means everyone in Greenwich has access to the web (and for them we are preparing a paper petition).

As to the "who elected you" jibe. The UK has a long and noble tradition of successful single-issue pressure groups who have achieved great things for the common good. It is the way we do things in this country. This phenomenon probably comes about as a direct result of the people seeing themselves being failed, time and time again, by their elected representatives. As we have been in Greenwich.

If you are a Councillor, perhaps you will tell me this: why did you countenance even for a nanosecond the insanity of siting a resort-sized casino 750m from a primary school and a health centre? Each of us has a duty of care towards children and the vulnerable, and the Council had better shape up. The truth is that, so far, the Council seems to be betraying the children of Greenwich on all sides.

10:03 am  
Anonymous andrew said...

73 real people against. Which compares with the 18 letters supporting the casino (and 22 against) as disclosed through the CAP process. Those 18 letters were almost entirely from self-interested organisations who are set to profit from the casino.

10:40 am  
Blogger Indigo said...

Bull's eye, Andrew (10:40). :-)

11:05 am  
Anonymous andrew said...

And lo and behold, what do we find in today's Observer?

Super-casino 'will spark crime wave'

Any chance that the Council can respond to the report? Or is this just more middle-class mithering?

Also this article notes that "Dispatches: Labour's Gambling Addiction' will be shown on Channel 4 at 8pm on 22 January"

2:13 pm  
Anonymous greezy pimp said...

Yes interesting read and I don't doubt the author of the report DI Warner is correct that the gaming licence is not the problem it's the drinks licence that will cause an increase in social problems. So I like him will give the Casino a 'cautious welcome' if it comes to Greenwich. Perhaps on the findings of his report you should change the aim of your puritanical crusade to include pubs, off licences and supermarkets, these misery mongers add to the social problems your so concerned about every day.

3:20 pm  
Blogger Indigo said...

Missed point error, greezy.

6:00 pm  
Anonymous andrew said...

greezy, indigo's right - that's not the point. The casino is supposed to regenerate this area. Yet the police are telling us that it will spark huge social unrest. Our elected representatives have consistently failed to do anything about this and it's left to a few sensible, honest citizens to dig into the issues. You may think that's puritanical; I happen to think it's good, old-fashioned common sense.

9:50 am  
Blogger Indigo said...

What I want to know is. Did all the Councillors see the police report prepared last March and sent to PwC, and all agree to it being suppressed; or did Chris Roberts suppress it, so that no other Councillors saw it?

Serious dereliction of duty by whoever supppressed or agreed to suppress that report and actively prevent its message being released into the public domain where - heaven forfend - Greenwich Council Tax payers could read it and form their own judgement.

6:37 pm  

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