Welcome to the News desk.
|Manchester gets UK's first supercasino licence
Manchester has won the
race to host Britain's first ever supercasino in a shock decision which saw it
overhaul the favourites Blackpool and the Greenwich Dome.
The news - at
11am today - came as a blow to Blackpool's hopes of an immediate regeneration
from gambling, while the Dome, under its new American owners, was hoping to
combine a new casino with a concert hall, hotel and Olympic facilities.
But both cities may draw hope from reports that the government may now
revert to its original plan and allow further large casinos region-wide.
(Ministers believe they will be able to swiftly relax the restrictions on
super-casinos so that more than one Las Vegas style gambling resort can be
built in the UK.)
secretary, Tessa Jowell, will explain the surprise decision to MPs in the
Commons at 3.30pm today.
Steve Weaver, chief executive of Blackpool
Council, whose bid was the bookmakers' favourite, said the resort was
"surprised and hugely disappointed by the panel's recommendation but we are not
Manchester has now won the right to host a 5,000 sq metre
casino with up to 1,250 unlimited slot machines.
The supercasino is to
be built in Beswick, a poor area of east Manchester. It will be based at
Sportcity, close to the City of Manchester stadium - built for the Commonwealth
Games and now used by Manchester City football club.
The leader of
Manchester City Council, Richard Leese, said: "This is fantastic news for
Manchester and the region. We have always believed that Manchester offers a
robust testbed for the successful implementation of this major leisure and
Manchester's bid promises the "highest standards
of social responsibility", with an independent community trust to oversee its
workings. The proposed site is at the heart of a region with a population of 3
million potential gamblers.
Bid organisers say it will regenerate the
area, promising a £265m investment and 2,700 direct and indirect jobs in
one of the most deprived parts of the country.
The site will also
contain an entertainment complex with a range of facilities such as a
multi-purpose arena, a swimming pool, an urban sports venue, restaurants, bars,
a nightclub and a hotel. Professor Stephen Crow, the chair of the independent
Casino Advisory Panel which made the decision, told Sky News: "Blackpool was
good, but it was a competition and Manchester was better."
He said the
finalists had not been graded or listed, but Manchester simply chosen as the
winner on three criteria - social impact, regeneration and the willingness to
In the same announcement, large casino licences were granted
to Great Yarmouth, Kingston-upon-Hull, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes,
Newham, Solihull and Southampton.
Smaller casino licences were granted
to Bath and North East Somerset, Dumfries and Galloway, East Lindsey, Luton,
Scarborough, Swansea, Torbay and Wolverhampton.
The Dome in Greenwich -
now called The O2 - was earlier regarded as favourite in the race, then
Blackpool surged ahead at the 11th hour. Bookie Paddy Power made the resort its
favourite and slashed the odds on it winning to 4/6 at the weekend.
large casinos will cover up to 1,500 sq metres and house up to 150 gaming
machines with jackpots of up to £4,000. Small casinos will cover up to
750 sq metres and house up to 80 of the £4,000 maximum jackpot gaming