No bet

BACK in the mid-noughties, not as long ago as it sounds, a few local politicians made a song and dance about how they were protecting the people of Camden by ensuring that new casinos would not be landing in the borough. This was around the time that Tessa Jowell was suggesting these gambling warehouses could be used to regenerate areas of Britain, posing for a picture sprawled across the roulette baize she must now hate.

These councillors didn’t make much newsprint because it felt like an empty campaign. Everybody was banging on about Manchester getting a ‘super casino’ and there never felt much chance of a supercasino being plonked in the middle of Camden Town.

The extent of the straight bat the Town Hall played on this issue is confirmed in court papers at the High Court in a ruling handed down last week in a legal case between a chain of casinos, Casinos Austria International, and a solictor. Their dispute hasn’t much to do with Camden but, in one aside, it is revealed in the papers the company had at one time scoped out the New London Theatre in Covent Garden as a possible casino venue. At the time there were news reports about the theatre, within the borough boundaries, being up for sale.

For those not willing to squint, the ruling’s narrative section says the project “ultimately came to nothing because the London Borough of Camden did not ask to be selected as a site for one of the new casinos”. It seems Camden said no – and meant no.

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