STAFF and customers at a Huddersfield gambling complex are asking local MP Barry Sheerman to get the Government's new Gambling Bill changed.

Rank Group Gaming Division - which owns Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casino at Folly Hall in Huddersfield - has launched a campaign to widen Government plans to allow super casinos across the UK.

Existing casinos will have to bid to local councils for a licence to become the area's `super casino'.

The new casinos can have slot machines with unlimited stakes and prizes - while ordinary casinos must stick to their current limits of just 10 fruit machines, maximum stakes of 50p and maximum prizes of £2,000.

Rank says this will give its clubs `second class status'.

Customers and staff have sent letters to Mr Sheerman in support of Rank's claims that the new laws threaten the future of existing gambling venues.

The campaign is running in Rank's Mecca Bingo, Grosvenor Casino and Hard Rock Casinos across the UK.

Stuart Colhart, general manager of Mecca Bingo at Huddersfield, said: "We've had a massive response to this campaign - a clear demonstration of how passionately our customers feel about the future of their clubs.

"We hope this will be recognised by the Government and amendments will be made to the Bill."

Labour MP Mr Sheerman pledged to speak with ministers from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to see if the Bill - currently being debated in the House of Lords - could be changed.

He said: "I have had lots of letters about this. I am going to meet with the casinos in Huddersfield and talk with ministers and I hope I can be useful in getting the Bill amended."

The Bill will allow 24 `super casinos' to be created in Britain.

Originally, there were to be 40 but now only eight small, eight large and eight regional casinos will be permitted countrywide.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport says the numbers have been limited so the impact can be tested over a three-year period.

It will be 2006 before the Government reveals which areas will get `super casinos'.

Rank commercial director Nigel Sibley said: "It is great for whoever gets the licence and will create jobs but how are other casinos and bingo clubs going to compete?

"Existing casinos will be frozen in time and will not be allowed any new products while the Government grants new licences which give monopolies in certain areas for new casinos.

"This is going to destabilise the way clubs develop across the country.

"We would like to see a modernisation of gambling laws so that existing casinos and bingo clubs can improve products and prizes.

"We are not afraid of competition, but we would like a level playing field.

"The way in which these licenses will be auctioned off plays into the hands of casino operators from abroad who have been circling the UK like vultures waiting to pick off prime elements of the market."