Glasgow is still a good bet to land a super-casino - Sunday 12th of June 2005

GLASGOW can still get Britain's first super-casino, says the boss of the city's business organisation. The Government has ruled the UK will get just one Las Vegas-style complex ... with Blackpool the hot tip. However, Lesley Sawers, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: "There is no reason why we should not benefit from being the first location to have a regional-size complex in the UK and we would welcome it here."

Her comments came as she and fellow members of the Chamber's ruling council were today briefed by one of the three main international gaming corporations eager to build a super-casino in the city. A super-casino is one with up to 1250 slot machines able to pay out up to £1million. Ms Sawers added: "A project such as this has the potential to create more than 2000 jobs, bring an additional £30million to Scotland year on year and help develop Glasgow as a key tourist destination." Las Vegas Sands has teamed up with Rangers Football Club to propose a big casino near Ibrox Stadium. Its UK representative, Rodney Brody, said: "We believe Glasgow is an ideal location for a development of this nature."

In April, just before the break-up of the last Westminster Parliament, the Government axed its plans for nine 'regional' super-casinos, one of which would almost certainly have been in Scotland. Instead, it will try just one pilot scheme. Ms Sawers stressed Glasgow should not give up on a super-casino, even if it fails at the first attempt because the Government may choose to liberalise gaming laws further. She said: "Even if the initial licence goes to Blackpool, it is vital Scotland continues to pursue any possibility of future licences that might become available." Rangers and Las Vegas Sands, however, are not the only firms wanting to set up shop in Glasgow. The SECC aims to finance a major redevelopment, including a 12,500-seater indoor arena, with a major hotel and casino resort. It has teamed up with Kerzner International, one of the world's biggest gaming corporations.

Glasgow Harbour, the housing development downstream from SECC, has struck a deal with MGM Mirage, another gaming and entertainment giant. Tourism bosses are particularly worried about the city's booming conventions business and fear Glasgow will find it more difficult to attract conferences if it does not have a super-casino. Tens of thousands of delegates attend conferences at the SECC and elsewhere every year. Increasingly, however, major international organisations are choosing to bring their annual get-togethers to places with 24-hour nightlife, such as major casinos.

www.eveningtimes.co.uk

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