Stanley joins battle to run super casino - Tuesday 12th of April 2005

Liverpool based gaming group Stanley Leisure yesterday threw its hat in the ring in the battle to be the operator of Britain's only Las Vegas-style super casino.

Last week the Government agreed to slash the number of such outlets from eight to just one in order to get its gambling reforms through parliament before the General Election.

The belief in the gaming industry is that the one super casino will be built in Blackpool and Stanley, which is already the UK's biggest casino operator, said it would be keen to run it.

Michael Riddy, managing director of the firm's casinos division, told the Daily Post: "The decision to limit the number to just one was both good news and bad news for us.

"The good news for us is that we will see less competition from overseas and I think a lot of the big operators from places like the US will now not bother.

"The bad news I suppose is that there will only be one regional casino - we had wanted to develop those ourselves. The one regional is likely to be in Blackpool and we would like to be the operator."

Stanley already runs 41 casinos across the country, including four upmarket establishments in London and its large Star City complex in Birmingham.

Last November, it announced a joint venture with Malaysian based Genting International to develop new regional casinos in the UK.

Mr Riddy said yesterday the group had also won vital concessions from the government in respect of slot machines and access for customers.

As part of the Bill, which it is believed will become law in the summer, the number of slot machines allowed in current casinos will be increased from 10 to 20 and the prize limit raised from ??2,000 to ??4,000.

The 24 hour rule - which dictates people have to be members of a casino for 24 hours before they can gamble - will also be abolished.

Mr Riddy was appointed managing director of Stanley Casinos in August to lead the division through its next development stage. He was previously group finance director.

It suffered a blow earlier this year when it revealed one lucky high roller had won around ??3m at one of its prestige London outlets.

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