Lady luck snubs Blackpool college

2nd February 2007 at 00:00

Blackpool and the Fylde college has insisted that it will not lose its shirt after taking a gamble on opening a gaming academy only to find that Britain's sole supercasino will be in Manchester.

Despite Blackpool being the bookmakers' favourite, Manchester was chosen for a casino of 5,000 square metres, with up to 1,250 slot machines.

A consortium interested in running the casino has already approached Manchester College of Arts and Technology for some of its training.

Blackpool had hoped that the casino plan would start a regeneration of the faded seaside resort. Officials expected it to rake in pound;265 million of investment and create 2,700 jobs.

But the college said its gaming academy, which opened last February, has already attracted students from all over Britain and would be well-placed to train staff for its north-western neighbour.

Pauline Waterhouse, the principal, said: "The gaming academy is flourishing within the industry and within the UK. We have students here from all over the country who, when they have received their qualification, will be able to go back to their respective towns and cities and secure jobs within their local casinos."

The academy has built relationships with companies such as Gala, a gaming operator whose junior managers it trains, and with the Carnival cruise ship firm, which runs floating casinos.

But the college admitted that the supercasino decision would hinder its expansion plans.

Ms Waterhouse said: "Blackpool and the Fylde college has supported Blackpool's bid to the extent of creating a purpose-built training centre to up-skill the local people who, it was hoped, would secure jobs within the casino complex. These are jobs not just in the casino itself, but in the conference and hospitality areas that would inevitably have come with it."

College staff and those involved in the Blackpool bid were shocked that Manchester had won, with most betting on a two-horse race between the seaside resort and a regenerated Millennium Dome in Greenwich.

A Mancat spokeswoman said that no decision had been made on whether the college would train croupiers, although it intended to maximise opportunities in hotel, leisure and construction training.

Peter Tavernor, principal of Mancat, said: "This is great news for the city in regeneration terms. All the work undertaken three years' ago in preparing the original bid has now been fully vindicated."

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