Wexford People

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Teen casino man throws in his chips

A BUSINESSMAN has decided not to open a teenage casino in the town, following negative public reaction to the plan.

Thomas Lacey, owner of the 147 Snooker Club in South Main Street, revealed this week that he has changed his mind about the proposal.

'Having listened to the voice of the 'people' and spoken to a number of local parents and taken their thoughts and concerns into account, I have decided that the opening of the teen casino will not go ahead,' he said.

However, Mr. Lacey said he still feels strongly that many teenagers in Wexford have nothing to do with their spare time, except ' drinking, smoking, drug-taking and hanging around the streets with nowhere to go.'

' For the most part, these kids are normal, decent, well-brought up teenagers who, in their own words, have nothing to do,' he said.

He insisted that it was never his intention to mislead the youth of Wexford and he is still interested in providing facilities for young people.

' The facilities are available and I would welcome a chance to work with those involved in the youth sector, to help improve the free time of teenagers,' he said, calling on politicians, counsellors and youth workers to put their heads together and help the next generation of Wexford adults.

In relation to adverse publicity about the casino plan last week, Mr. Lacey said it is easier to criticise than to come up with positive alternatives.

He said he recently attended a greyhound meeting and saw children as young as 12 betting and having their money accepted.

' No-one was turned away because they were under 18 - is that not teaching young people to gamble?' he asked.

Every village in the county has a bingo night where children buy books in the hope of winning money, he added.

Mr. Lacey said his proposal was for a casino-themed night where teenagers could interact and socialise together. They would not have been gambling for money.

'It would have been a supervised evening with no alcohol involved,' he added.