CASINOS will no longer be banned from Torfaen, with any licence applications considered on their own merits.

Councillors have decided to change a policy due to end in January which bans casino applications in the borough.

It means that from February any applications for casinos will be considered on their own merits.

At a full meeting of the council on Tuesday, licensing manager Alison Hughes said that in the right circumstances casinos could bring economic benefits.

But Cllr David Daniels (Labour, Pontnewydd ward) said the change would hit the most vulnerable.

"I can't endorse something which disproportionately impacts on the poorest in society," he said.

Cllr Daniels said casinos offer an "additional route" towards gambling, and disputed any claim that it would alleviate online gambling problems.

But leader of the council, Cllr Anthony Hunt (Labour, Panteg) said he supported changing the policy.

"No one is suggesting we pass an application for a casino," he told the meeting.

"The suggestion is that any application is dealt with on its own merits.

"I can't envisage a circumstance where I would vote to have a casino in Torfaen but if a developer came along and wanted to develop a particularly attractive proposition that could bring lots of money into our economy and could help regenerate a large area of Cwmbran then I think we as councillors would want to make a decision on the merits of the application."

And Cllr Raymond Mills (Conservative, New Inn) said he agreed with the change in policy.

He added: "We would not want to lose a huge input and a leisure complex just because there was a small casino to move in there."

Cllr Rose Seabourne (Labour, Fairwater) said she could understand both sides of the argument, but favoured having the option of considering any casino application as long as the social implications are considered.

Cllr Stuart Ashley (Labour, Pontnewydd) said that if the policy was changed, councillors' concerns over the health and social impact of gambling should be noted.

The decision means applications for a casino licence will be received and processed in the same way as other gambling premises applications.

This includes a 28-day consultation and if representations are received the determination of the application will be made by the council's licensing committee.