Northampton MP criticised after supporting casino venue in Northampton town centre

Tory MP Andrew Lewer says the gambling shop was 'safe, friendly and social' but Labour groups says casinos are 'absolutely not what the town needs'

By Logan MacLeod
Friday, 10th December 2021, 4:20 pm
Andrew Lewer MP (middle) recently visited Admiral Casino in Gold Street, Northampton.
Andrew Lewer MP (middle) recently visited Admiral Casino in Gold Street, Northampton.

A Northampton MP has been criticised by the opposition for supporting a casino and the gambling industry in the town centre.

Conservative Northampton South MP Andrew Lewer visited Admiral Casino in Gold Street and said these types of gambling shops are 'safe, friendly and social'.

The government is currently looking at a wide range of issues within the gambling industry and a White Paper is set to be published in the coming months.

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Mr Lewer said: “It was great to visit my local Admiral gaming centre in Northampton to meet the local team and find out more about the business and its customers.

"We also discussed the training they provide for staff and the important role they play on our high streets and within our communities.

“These venues are safe, friendly and social.

"I welcome the government’s review into gambling legislation that is taking place, as the current legislation pre-dates the prevalence of online gambling.

"I hope that this review leaves space for more socially responsible, in person businesses like these high street gaming centres.”

However, the Northampton Labour Group was less than impressed with Mr Lewer's visit.

Leader of the Labour Group Councillor Gareth Eales said: “Mr Lewer is happy to pose for many photo opportunities in Northampton, while voting in parliament to make the lives of its residents harder, be it through cutting Universal Credit as well as funding to local government.

"The fact that so many of these photo opportunities appear to be associated with the gambling industry raises questions for residents as to whether their MP is in tune with his own party’s vision for the town or the welfare of his constituents.”

Labour Councillor Danielle Stone, of the Castle ward, added: "Casinos are absolutely not we need in our town. They are a tax on the poor, promising jam tomorrow. We need retailers that will help increase the visitors to the town. This will not do."

A Labour Group spokesman said it welcomes the contribution that the amusements industry makes to the local economy but 'more must be done to protect people from problem gambling'.

The spokesman said: "Labour is becoming increasingly concerned with the cluster of gambling establishments that are forming in the town, which research shows will negatively affect our poorer residents the most.

"Earlier this year a new 24-hour casino was opened in Northampton, plans for another have been approved as well as a bookmaker in the former town centre Nationwide building set to open.

"In the town centre alone, there are currently nine gambling establishments with a tenth soon set to open.

"When discussing the current state of Northampton town centre and West Northamptonshire Council's development plans at cabinet on Tuesday (December 7), Conservative leader of the council Jonathan Nunn responded to a question saying “I don’t like to see bookmakers (in the town centre) along with many other things you’ve mentioned as well.”

To read more about that disagreement between Mr Nunn and Ms Stone, click here.