The new breed of casinos planned for Britain will be bigger than any seen before in this country and will be packed with fruit machines offering huge jackpots, ministers revealed today.
The supercasinos were unveiled as the Government set out plans to relax gambling laws which went even further than expected.
Industry chiefs believe the reforms will turn Blackpool into the gambling capital of Europe with the construction of casino complexes along the lines of those in Las Vegas, complete with floor shows.
Ministers revealed today that no more small or medium-sized casinos would be permitted once the reforms are in place.
Experts say they are difficult to police and fuel addiction.
Instead, all new casinos will be of a minimum size equivalent to about 20 gaming tables – as big as the largest of the casinos currently open. Strict limits on the number of fruit machines and the prizes offered will be swept away.
All new casinos fitted with at least 40 gaming tables will be able to offer an unlimited number of slot machines, networked together to offer a jackpot prize running into millions of pounds.
However, plans to let different casinos network their machines together, to offer even larger prizes, have been dropped for fear that they could encourage problem gambling.
Other reforms include 24-hour opening and the scrapping of the 24-hour “cooling off ” period between joining a casino and being allowed to gamble at it.
Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell will publish her draft gambling Bill in the autumn.
Plans to rush the proposals through Parliament have been put back and could now become law in 2005, but are more likely to be delayed until after the general election.
Casino chiefs are frustrated at the delay to the legislation, which they claim is essential to strengthen the industry.
Analysts believe the reforms will increase casino turnover from £7 billion to £10 billion a year, netting an extra £1.5 billion a year for the Treasury in tax.
Critics have accused Labour of being influenced by gambling firm chiefs who have donated money to the party.
Delays to the publication of the Bill have been blamed on the need to rush other legislation through Parliament, including moves to tackle the flow of asylum seekers.