Mississippi firm hopes to build casino on Tyne - Thursday 12th of May 2005

ANOTHER US casino operator has unveiled plans for a hotel and leisure complex in the region.The Isle of Capri Group is proposing to invest £200m in Newcastle, with a development featuring a casino with two hotels, as well as leisure and conference facilities.

The Mississippi company plans to use derelict land next to the Metro Radio Arena, on the banks of the River Tyne.In a presentation to Newcastle City Council, it pledged to create up to 2,000 jobs.Councillor Anita Lower, the authority's executive member for modernisation, e-government and regulation, said the proposals were at a very early stage. She said: "This shows they can see the potential of Newcastle as a growing regional capital."This is one option, and that is as far as it has gone."Several of the world's leading casino operators have expressed an interest in building a Las Vegas-style venue in the region.

Middlesbrough mayor Ray Mallon has held discussions with a major Vegas casino operator, one from New Orleans and British company Aspinalls. US leisure company Las Vegas Sands has already submitted a planning application for a similar development next to Sunderland's Stadium of Light. Last year, Newcastle United also unveiled proposals for a £150m hotel and gaming complex on land next to St James's Park, in partnership with US company MGM Mirage. However, the schemes are all competing against each other after the Government pulled back from plans to legislate for eight regional casinos.Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has since suggested there will only be one initial development in the UK.Coun Lower said: "The whole thing is up in the air, and will stay that way until we get some proper guidance from the Government."

www.thisisthenortheast.co.uk

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