English Vegas gets gambling academy

A Blackpool college has at last cashed in on its plans to get into the gambling business as the Government relaxes the law on casinos.

The northern seaside resort has been in the doldrums with the decline of traditional bucket-and-spade holidays but it has been in the sights of casino companies hoping to turn it into the Las Vegas of Lancashire.

Blackpool and the Fylde college is to launch a gambling academy, an idea which has been under discussion since gambling reforms were first discussed seven years ago.

The removal of the 24-hour rule, which prevented people using a casino on impulse, has paved the way for the town's planned renaissance as a gambling paradise.

While comparisons with Las Vegas have been made, Blackpool's inspiration comes from Atlantic City, the US's other famous gambling centre, and college staff have been on fact-finding missions..

Colleen McLaughlin , manager of the gambling academy, said: "The aim of our gaming academy is to give the very best training in all aspects of casino work.

"We want our academy to be a one-stop shop with training for all gaming industry requirements under one roof.

"Students will be working in a 'real life' casino covering every function from the start of play to the close of business."

With Learning and Skills Council and European Union funding, the academy will train the casino staff of the future - bolstering the college's existing courses on tourism-related trades.

A range of courses for over-18s has been accredited by City and Guilds, the vocational awarding body.

Students can train as croupiers, slot machine engineers and administrators as the town's Golden Mile is opened up to casino firms looking for sites along the seafront.

Chris Clarke, regional operational director for Gala Casinos, said: "Recent and forthcoming legislative change means the industry is changing rapidly.

We are investing in the development of our own staff and recruiting more.

Part of that is educating people to work within the industry, which makes our relationship with Blackpool and The Fylde college vital."

The gaming academy will officially open on February 22, with 350 students.

Reg Chapman, the recently-retired principal of Blackpool and the Fylde College, told FE Focus in 2001 he thought gambling would be good for the town's image and the college. He commented: "The trouble with Blackpool is Las Vegas gets Tom Jones and all we get is the Grumbleweeds."

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