Firms to bid for casino licence - Thursday 17th of September 2009

Battle lines are being drawn up in the race to secure the licence for a major new casino in Hull.

Expressions of interest from operators are expected to be invited by the end of the year.

As the Mail revealed last December, international operators Apollo Casino Resorts have already declared their intention to bid for the licence.

The company wants to open a 25m complex in a new development earmarked for the derelict Clarence Mill site overlooking the River Hull next to Drypool Bridge.

Planning permission to include a casino in the development has already been granted.

Now it has emerged that city economy company Hull Forward has identified Humber Quays as its preferred location for the new casino following a study of six potential sites around the city centre.

Its thought that Hull Forward is keen to continue momentum at the flagship new business district after plans to attract a four-star hotel there stalled because of the recession..

Hull Forward chief executive John Holmes said: "We believe that a casino, if well managed. could be a key driver for bolstering the leisure offer in the city centre, acting as a catalyst to draw in much needed investment from restaurants, bars and other operators.

"In the context of the City Centre Masterplan, it could provide an anchor for a particular development area, bringing new jobs to Hull and attracting new customers and visitors from the wider Yorkshire and Lincolnshire areas."

Humber Quays is one of five areas zoned for new development under the Masterplan.

However, city council leader Councillor Carl Minns said he was not in favour of the waterfront business district as a potential casino location.

Speaking at a recent cabinet meeting which approved a package of minimum requirements ahead of the licensing process, he said he knew of at least four operators interested in coming to Hull.

"We need to make this process work because we do not want to lose this kind of developer interest," he added.

Deputy council leader Councillor Abi Bell said she had mixed feelings over any casino development.

"On the whole its a good thing and it will improve the offer of the city and bring in new jobs but it comes with a big health warning.

"The eventual developer will have to demonstrate a social responsibility."

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