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Britain's Brown scraps supercasino plan and ponders tightening of drinking, drugs laws

Britain's Brown scraps supercasino plan and ponders tightening of drinking, drugs laws

Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Tuesday scrapped plans for Britain's first Las Vegas-style supercasino, and he is considering a rollback on round-the-clock drinking and a hardening of drug laws.
For some, these three issues are the latest examples of Brown's pledge to rule by his own moral code.
Plans to open Britain's largest casino in a deprived corner of Manchester, a city in northern England, had been approved by Brown's predecessor, Tony Blair, as part of a regeneration effort.
The proposed casino was planned to include an array of gaming tables and more than 1,000 unlimited jackpot slot machines _ and to provide about 3,500 new jobs.
But Brown said in July that he believed promoting gambling was not the correct way to help deprived cities, vowing to examine different methods of boosting regional economies.
Culture Secretary Andy Burnham confirmed the policy reverse to lawmakers on Tuesday, but said he has approved eight new small, and eight new medium-sized, casinos across Britain.
Manchester, 195 miles (315 kilometers) northwest of London, had defeated stiff competition from the northwestern seaside town of Blackpool to build the planned supercasino, but will now host no new venue.
"I know that my decision will disappoint many in Manchester and particularly east Manchester, one of the most deprived areas of the country," Burnham told lawmakers.
Brown, who took office last June and said he would lead according to his strict moral compass, also is considering changes to policies on drugs and drinking.
"Drinking, drugs and gambling are something Brown does not feel as comfortable with as Blair," said John Curtice, a political analyst at Strathclyde University, in Scotland.
Ministers will report Wednesday on a review of drugs laws, which is expected to recommend a reclassification of marijuana.
The drug was downgraded under Blair's regime, meaning most people caught in possession escaped arrest. Brown is likely to re-categorize the drug and stiffen penalties for users and dealers.
A Home Office report on the effects of 24-hour drinking, brought in by Blair in 2005, is expected to conclude the policy has led to increased late-night, alcohol-fueled violence.
"Binge drinking is completely unacceptable, the public is fed up with it, people find it unacceptable," Brown told Britain's Five News television in an interview Monday.
Blair had made scrapping laws which meant most of Britain's pubs served their final drinks at 11 p.m. every day a central plank of his platform when he won power in 1997.
But Alasdair Murray, of the liberal London think tank Center Forum, said he believed many Britons _ worried over rises in violent crime _ will support Brown's dismantling of Blair's more permissive regime.
"Brown has shown he is much more socially conservative and that appears to strike a chord with the public at the moment," Murray said.