Casino bidding terms revealed

The government has set out the first guidelines to potential bidders and local authorities as the scramble to win one of the 17 new casino licences begins.

The most sought after licence will be that of the super-casino in Manchester, but after the government announced that previous agreements between local authorities and casino operators must not be given any precedence, Kerzner International may no longer be the favourites to operate the UK’s first Las Vegas-style casino.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said in a statement that existing arrangements must not “affect the competition in such a way as to make it substantively unfair”.

However, it is widely known that Kerzner has made headway in forging a strong relationship and understanding with the DCMS and other parties involved in the decision making process.

The DCMS have also stated that any bidder must be fully vetted to ensure they will be a responsible operator and protect the young and vulnerable, as well as contributing to problem gambling support groups. They must also add to the development of the local area and economy.

"The competition could be judged on a wide range of issues, reflecting the issues that are important in the local area,” the DCMS said.

"These may include, for example, employment and regeneration potential, the design of the proposed development, financial commitments by the developer to local projects, location, range of facilities and other matters.”

It is expected that government ministers will finalise the code of bidding for the new licences by early May so as local authorities can begin to start the bidding process in July.

However, that timetable may not run smoothly as there is still much incredulity at the choice of the Casino Advisory Panel (CAP) to recommend Manchester as the choice for the super-casino. A commons motion signed by 74 MP’s backing the bid of Blackpool is likely to put Tessa Jowell, Culture Secretary, under more pressure as she comes to approving the choice of Manchester to MP’s in a vote expected next month.

Editor, - 2007-02-22 11:28:56

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