Dermot Desmond to open casino in capital - Thursday 12th of May 2005

The move marks a growing interest in the betting and gaming business by the financier, who is a major shareholder in Glasgow Celtic. Mr Desmond (54), with wealth estimated at €1,239m, already owns Betda, the world's second-biggest betting exchange, which enjoys a near-monopoly in the huge Asian football betting market. Planning applications have been posted in respect of two new businesses in premises at South Anne Street, off Grafton Street.

The first of these is in the name of Justin Carty who manages Chronicle Bookmakers, which Mr Desmond bought to add to his bookmaking portfolio. In Mr Carty's name, Mr Desmond is looking to open a betting shop on the ground floor. The other application is for a "private members' club", which sources close to the Desmond empire say will provide high-class casino facilities. This application is in the name of Albert Sharpe, who is an employee of Chronicle Bookmakers and who, along with Mr Carty, enjoys a high-profile presence on Ireland's racecourses.

The operating of casinos in the capital comes into an uncertain legal area as, in the last decade, Dublin City Council rescinded Part 3 of the 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act. The National Lottery is run under an addendum to the 1956 Act but the main body of the legislation has never been updated. According to legal experts, the owners of up to a dozen casinos already in Dublin bypass the restrictions by confining play to "private members". No one at Dermot Desmond's office was prepared to comment yesterday.

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