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LONDON-The government is expected to drop plans for gaming reform in the next parliament because of an overcrowded legislative programme.

The move will be a major blow to national and international casino operators who had hoped that liberalisation of the market would allow a rapid expansion of Las Vegas-style resorts across the country.

The industry is already reeling from the news that the local autjority in Blackpool, Lancashire–expected to be one of the forerunners of the casino resort concept–had downgraded the casino element in its £1 billion ($1.6 billion) regeneration masterplan. Casinos will now be only a small part of the proposals that comprise a convention centre, an entertainment complex and hotels.

The council is confident regeneration can go ahead whether or not four casino hotels are built. But industry insiders are warning that the latest indications from government of a delay to gaming deregulation could mean these hotels are not built at all. They also suspect that the council may well have been forewarned by ministers of the delays.

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