£5.6m staked on new casino - Monday 17th of September 2007

More than £5 million is to be ploughed into developing Bradfords first casino hotel.

The company behind the prestigious Clermont Club casino in Mayfair, London, wants to create a gaming club in the basement of the historic Midland Hotel.

Regulations now allow casinos and hotels to be integrated, and the move by Clermont Leisure will see Bradford become home to one of the first establishments of its type in the country.

Bradford Betting and Gaming Licensing Committee, sitting at the citys magistrates court, yesterday granted a licence for the new development, despite opposition from rival company Gala, which operates a casino at the Leisure Exchange.

The Guoman Club, as the Midland Hotel venture will be known, will bring the total number of casinos in Bradford to three, after Gala and Napoleons Casino in Bolton Road.

Robert Peel, executive chairman of Peel Hotels, which owns the Midland, said: "We are delighted that the application has been successful.

"Together with what we are doing in the hotel in terms of investment, this will make it a more attractive proposition for local business and visitors to the city.

"I think it is going to become a beacon of elegance and attract more business to the city. The underneath of the hotel will be totally redeveloped to become a self-contained casino which is also accessible from within the hotel.

"It is a significant investment in the building, which we hope will help make it Yorkshires best hotel."

Clermont Leisure, the company behind the casino, was established in 2005 and is owned by BIL International, an investment company based in Singapore.

It has made a number of casino licence applications across the country, with ones in Glasgow, Middlesbrough and Wolverhampton already granted.

At the committee meeting chairman of the bench, Tony Lofthouse, said: "The applicants say this is something new and different and that the timing is right as Bradford as a city is at the start of a multi-million pound regeneration scheme.

"The applicants plan to spend £4.4 million on the casino and the hotel plans to spend £1.2 million in addition to its normal rolling programme of refurbishment.

"There will be shared services in respect of food preparation and internal access for hotel residents. The hotel will be working towards moving from three star to four star."

There was a positive reaction to development among the districts political leaders.

Labour group leader Ian Greenwood said: "I am not opposed to gambling per se and I have been known to gamble myself. But I do think we need to be careful that people dont get into trouble.

"I would want to be clear that it was well run, of high quality and with policies in place which ensure that people dont get into trouble through irresponsible gambling. I dont think it is the Councils job to limit gambling."

Liberal Democrat group leader Jeanette Sunderland said: "Ive never gambled in a casino myself, but clearly it is an entertainment that some enjoy. As long as there are the necessary checks and age restrictions in place, I would welcome it."

Council leader Kris Hopkins was not available for comment.

GAMBLING ACT 2005 The Act came in to force on September 1, 2007, and some of the main changes include: The membership requirement on casinos is lifted.

Restrictions such as the 24-hour rule, requiring people to join a day in advance of taking part in gaming, are removed (this was removed on October 1, 2005).

Responsibility for licensing gambling premises passes from Licensing Justices to the local authority. Bradford Council will now take over this function, much like it did alcohol and entertainment licences in February 2005.

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