United's chances of supercasino remote - Thursday 12th of May 2005

THE head of casinos at Stanley Leisure yesterday dismissed the chances of Manchester United securing the only UK supercasino as "extremely remote".His comments came as US gaming giant Las Vegas Sands announced it would invest £218m in its proposed venture with the football club to build near Old Trafford.Michael Riddy, of Liverpool-based Stanley, the UK's biggest casino operator, said: "The hot favourite is Blackpool.

When the (gaming) bill went through there were MPs and Lords on all sides of the house who kept on mentioning Blackpool."So I would be very surprised if it was going to end up in Manchester."A late amendment in the Gambling Act means only one regional supercasino will be built in the UK. Sixteen other licences will be granted to build eight large and eight small casinos.United's plans include a luxury five star hotel, restaurants, health club, sports bar and a regional casino on the Trafford Park side of the ground."It will be a lifestyle centre themed around Manchester United," said Las Vegas Sands president and chief operating officer William Weidner.

The US firm, which is also vying to build a £1bn casino in Singapore, will pay for the entire cost of the UK project.Stanley was originally looking at a number of sites for its own supercasino and said it was now keen to win the potential Blackpool licence.Mr Riddy added: "When we thought there were going to be eight regionals, we were keen to get as many of those as possible."We were certainly hopeful of getting maybe two and at that stage the sites that we would have been most interested in were in Leeds and in Birmingham."He added that other changes to the gaming laws would help increase profits.

"There is an archaic rule at the moment that, if you join a casino, you have to wait 24 hours before you can gamble. That will go. We're also going to be allowed more jackpot (fruit) machines."

iccheshireonline.icnetwork.co.uk

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