Lakeside bids to run casino - Friday 21st of October 2005

ONE of the 17 new casinos set to be built in the UK could be coming to Frimley Green as part of a £30million development at the Lakeside Country Club.

Bob Potter (pictured), the owner of the leisure complex, hopes that securing a licence for a large casino under new gambling laws will secure his club’s future.

The new rules came into force at the start of October and laid the foundations for the creation of one regional ‘super-casino’, which could be built in Blackpool, eight large casinos and eight smaller operations.

Mr Potter wants to revamp his leisure facilities with a multimillion pound investment that will include one of the large casinos.

Before his project can move forward he must persuade Surrey Heath Borough Council to apply to the government for the borough to be considered as a location for one of the new casinos.

He said that he wanted his leisure complex, made famous in recent years as the ‘home of darts’, to be returned to its heyday when it attracted the world’s leading cabaret stars.

If the plan is successful he said that it will generate hundreds of new jobs and be a massive boost for the local economy, as well as securing the future of Lakeside.

Mr Potter said: “For more than 30 years Lakeside has been at the forefront of the entertainment industry in the UK and we believe we have the ideal site to introduce a casino that would be properly managed with strict codes of entry for visitors.

“We have linked up with a British casino operator which has an excellent track record and boasts a code of standards very much in line with our own.

“Our operation would be introduced into a well established, high-class leisure complex which is the ideal setting for a stylish and properly run casino.?

The unveiling of the blueprint for the project follows two years of research since the government decided to shake up gambling laws.

Under the new system, a five-man Casino Advisory Panel will make a decision on the council’s application and then operators would apply to the council for the licence.

Cllr Moira Gibson, the leader of the borough council, said that other casino operators had also approached the council to see if Surrey Heath might be one of the 17 new locations.

She said: “Lakeside may be a site, but other operators might be interested in that as well.

“I think it’s something we have to look at. I don’t think that anyone would be particularly over the moon about the idea.

“I still have doubts about whether it’s an appropriate place for a casino.?

She added that the proposal was likely to be discussed by the council in December.

Michael Gove, Surrey Heath MP, said that consultations with local residents should take place before a decision was made, but if the casino was properly run it could be an asset for the community.

He said: “I think it would be wrong for me to take a view for or against. It’s ultimately for the community to decide whether the benefits of invest-ment outweigh the concerns.?

However, Cllr Melanie Longden, the leader of the Labour group on the borough council, said that she had concerns about the project.

She said: “I think this does have implications beyond the fact that most people will probably never go there.

“Do I want Las Vegas down there? Not really. Is this the right place for it? I would question that. I have concerns about it. I think it’s important for people’s moral perspective on this to be taken into account

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