Super casino could be a winner - Thursday 12th of May 2005

Council bosses and business leaders have agreed to throw their weight behind a drive to bring the UK's first "super casino" to Coventry.Mississippi-based Isle of Capri secured a gambling licence to operate at the £113 million Ricoh Arena last month and hoped to become one of 24 proposed regional "super" casinos under a revised gambling act.But those plans took a setback just before the election when the government pushed through a bill which allows for only one regional pilot casino - likely to be in Blackpool.

Yesterday the gaming giant's bosses met city business and civic leaders at the Chamber of Commerce Business Council to discuss the company's bid for the pilot scheme.Speaking at the meeting, Isle of Capri president Tim Hinkley said: "It makes absolutely perfect sense for Coventry to be the pilot. We have everything in place and have already been involved in the city for more than two years."Other sites are more than three years away from completion and have a tremendous number of hurdles to cross before getting anywhere close to reality.

"We are here on the ground in Coventry. We are a part of the Ricoh Arena, a project which will bring massive regeneration benefits to the city, and we should be allowed to develop what will hopefully be the first of several resort casinos in the UK."He insists that the city is right for the casino despite the Blackpool being the odds-on favourite. He said: "The Isle of Capri sees tremendous potential in Coventry and believes that the government should look at our development very closely before deciding on a pilot."I would urge businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire to back our aim of investing in the area."Mr Hinkley said 95 per cent of the 1,000 jobs created by a resort casino would go to local people.Larry Coltman, president of the Chamber, is also backing the bid.

He said: "Ricoh has already invested in the Arena and sees it as a project of international significance."It is a unique project which is so much more than just a football stadium and the Isle of Capri's full involvement will only help increase its appeal."It makes absolute sense, with the building nearing completion, that the government think again and choose Coventry as the regional casino pilot."Last month it was reported how Conservative council leader Ken Taylor was disappointed that his Westminster colleagues helped reduce Coventry's chances of a supercasino.Tory MPs and the Lords were among opponents who forced the government to cut the number of proposed large regional casinos to just one.

iccoventry.icnetwork.co.uk

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