CASINO LICENCE GO-AHEAD - Wednesday 28th of May 2008

Swansea has hit the jackpot in its bid to open a new casino.The House of Lords has approved a Government recommendation which will allow Swansea Council to issue a new small casino licence, permitting up to 80 gaming machines on its premises.

A location for any new casino has yet to be identified, but the authority is now looking for "suitable" proposals from casino operators.

Phil Holmes, Swansea Councils head of economic and strategic development, said: "This is terrific news for Swansea as it could gener- ate significant investment and new job opportunities.

"We made a first-class case to land one of the new-style licences and the House of Lords decision now means its full steam ahead as we look for the most suitable operator for Swansea, based on factors such as job creation and potential to spark regeneration."

Swansea is one of a number of cities across the UK to have been granted permission for the new casino.

The decision follows a period of uncertainty after Prime Minister Gordon Brown ordered a review of so-called "super-casinos" last year.

The review was not expected to affect plans for the smaller casinos, but it delayed a final decision until the report was completed - and Swansea has now been given the go-ahead to issue a new licence.

The new casino licence will enable an operator to offer a range of facilities, in a customer area of between 750 and 1,500 square metres.

Bingo will not be permitted, but other betting services would be allowed, and gaming machines permitted to provide a maximum jackpot of £4,000.

Swansea Council is inviting applications from casino operators, who will be asked to show how their proposals will benefit the city.

In their plans they will be asked to consider local issues, design, location, protection of children and vulnerable people and the prevention of crime and disorder.

Mr Holmes added: "This new licence represents a huge chance for Swansea to further grow its leisure and entertainment offer, and will be another boost for tourism in the area.

"At the same time, however, its also important we ensure theres better regulated gambling in Swansea in line with the new Gambling Act which looks to protect the young and vulnerable and to ensure gambling isnt a source of crime.

"This news represents a major chance to put Swansea on the map and generate lasting employment and regeneration."

A number of casino operators are expected to be interested in the new licence.

The Rank Group, which owns the Grosvenor Casinos, said: "Our experience of operating a casino in Swansea over many years has meant we have a firm understanding of the citys commercial and community needs and has given us the ability to develop both enduring and firm relationships with the local police and Swansea Council.

"We believe that the opportunity to license a small casino under the new legislation is a welcome opportunity for Swansea.

"However, any decision on how to take forward the award of the licensing opportunity will need to address what the likely effect of a brand new casino will be on the existing casino market in the city, and whether there will be a net benefit for Swansea."

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