Torbay is expected to make a formal bid for a Monaco-style super-casino early next year. The Department of Culture Media and Sports casinos advisory panel has written to all local authorities asking t - Thursday 29th of December 2005

THE odds of a regional casino being developed at the Dome have improved after planners agreed to consider one at the Greenwich site.

The councils cabinet decided on Tuesday last week to express an interest in having a casino in the borough.

By giving the idea a cautious welcome, it has kept itself in the running by meeting the Governments Friday deadline for interested boroughs.

The decision was important because applications from prospective operators will only be considered if the local authority is willing to issue licences for such operations.

Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) has drawn up plans with South African gambling giants Kerzner to have a casino in what is now known as The O2 - alongside its 26,000 entertainment arena.

The developer says the casino is a vital part of its vision to create a world-class leisure destination on the Greenwich Peninsula.

A National Audit Office report also argues that the casino is essential to make the scheme financially viable.

A council spokesman said: "We agreed to express an interest but will wait and see what proposals AEG come up with. We are not proactively welcoming a casino but we are also not ruling it out."

The Department of Culture Media and Sports casino advisory panel will recommend by the end of 2006 where the eight large gambling venues should be based.

Legislation under the Gambling Act 2005 state that they must be in areas in need of regeneration and be linked to tourism.

Initially there will be only be one casino in London and the O2 application would compete against bids for Wembley, Rainham, Olympia, White City, West Ham Football Club and East Croydon.

In March, a London Assembly scrutiny committee reported that Greenwichs enthusiasm for a casino was more measured, compared with strong support from other boroughs.

AEG said the casino would provide 1,117 jobs with an average salary of £24,120.

It would also build a luxury 300-room hotel designed by architect Richard Rogers.

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