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CARMEN REID: The house is the only real winner.


I BLAME Bond, James Bond. He's the one who made casinos look glamorous.

In just about every Bond film, there's the ludicrous casino scene where 007 - with a posse of sequinned, slinky superbabes - drinks chilled martini, puts all his money on red and guess what? He always wins and the bad guy loses.

Well, sorry to dispel the myth, but the reality of casinos is BO, flock wallpaper, jangling fruit machines and lots of people losing more money than they'd like to admit.

Don't fool yourself - the only real winner, time after time, is the casino.

I don't care if you're stupid enough to want to get rid of your money like this.

If having a flutter is just your "harmless bit of fun" and it's not costing you more than you can afford.. fine.

What I really care about is the way Glasgow is being circled like shark bait by the mega-casino chiefs.

There are three huge new casinos on the drawing board for the city - and we're all being led like sheep to think this is a wonderful idea.

Phrases like "Glasvegas" and "thousands of new jobs" (mostly low-paid) and "inner-city regeneration" are being bandied about.

And, most sickening of all, we're supposed to swallow the line that these casinos will be "sports and leisure" complexes.

Don't make me laugh.

Sport in Scotland is in crisis. Our football team is pants.

We may have a tennis player who's won the junior US Open, but his trainer mum has quit her national post in protest at the lack of facilities in this country.

In the whole of Scotland, we only have two outdated Olympic-sized swimming pools.

But don't worry, the casino boys are promising us pools, ice rinks, football pitches, theatres, indoor parks, and even artificial beaches.

In fact they're promising whatever the council wants to hear, in order to have their great money-pinching machines opened all over town.

According to some reports, the casinos are even offering councils a cut of the takings, which will surely speed up planning applications.

AND the way the new casinos are trying to associate themselves with sporting facilities is just sinister.

Mega-casinos are now in the pipeline for Rangers' Ibrox Stadium, Wembley, the Millennium Dome complex, Leeds United's ground and so on.

It all reminds me of those lovely playgrounds which Ronald McDonald built for the children at his whopping chain of burger bars.

You remember,the ones which meant all those associations of happy times with mum, dad and your friends translated into buying a Big Mac and fries.

Playing a fruit machine is not a sport!

And betting on a match is certainly not the same as taking part.

I can't be the only person who thought that inner-city regeneration was about supporting local business, providing better schools, better parks, better sports centres and better transport - not simply inviting huge money-grabbing corporations into town.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 21, 2004
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