New PM Has Industry In A Spin

Within barely a couple of weeks since becoming prime minister, Gordon Brown has made a couple of decisions that have put the entertainment business in a bit of a spin.

After all the fuss over the bidding to have the U.K.’s first so-called supercasino, and the highly amusing subplot about whether U.S. billionaire Philip Anschutz bought British deputy prime minister John Prescott a cowboy outfit to sway him toward AEG’s proposals to house it at London’s O2, it seems the whole project has been scrapped.

The failed AEG bid to have the mini Brit Vegas at "The Dome" – the building Anschutz’s company had already taken off the U.K. government’s hands – along with the narrow-losing bid from Blackpool and even the winning proposal from Manchester all turned out to be nothing more than time well wasted.

Many in his party only supported the idea of the mega-gambling houses – and then only one as a tester – because they were persuaded it was a way to create jobs and help urban regeneration. But now Brown has said he wants to look at whether there’s "a better way" of helping rundown areas.

This news, which Brown delivered during a statement made after Prime Minister’s Question Time on July 11, was well-received by church leaders and pressure groups that campaigned against the casinos and warned of the dangers of encouraging gambling.

It wasn’t well-received in Manchester, where local estimates suggest that being the site for the first casino would have created more than 2,500 jobs and brought in about £200 million of investment.

Brown hasn’t actually said the casino idea is scrapped, only that he’s looking at a better way of funding urban regeneration. But the unanimous opinion of all "the insiders" who’ve talked to the U.K. papers is that the casino idea is "dead in the water."

A week before he let that one drop, Brown had the U.K.’s concert promoters and venues wondering if they will need to repeat their arguments against secondary ticketing.

Along with some of the U.K.’s major sports organisations, they’ve been pleading their case to Tessa Jowell, who headed the department for culture, media and sport, but she’s been shuffled off to concentrate on running the 2012 Olympics.

Shaun Woodward, the DCMS minister who was most involved with the issue, uttered what turned out to be his parting shot when on June 26 he said the government would only legislate against ticket touts as "a very, very last resort."

A few days later he was shuffled to Northern Ireland, elevating the former Tory to a cabinet role.

Jowell’s replacement as minister is James Purnell, MP for Stalybridge & Hyde, a former parliamentary under-secretary in the department of culture, media and sport.