Billionaire heads up Cardiff casino complex - Sunday 12th of June 2005

A BILLIONAIRE businessman has been chosen as the face behind a multi-million pound casino complex in the heart of Cardiff Bay.

The multiplex, which will include two luxury hotels, is expected to create more than 1,500 full-time jobs, with more than 1,000 job opportunities for suppliers across South Wales.

The casino at the long-awaited £700m sports village will be run by Aspers, part of the Aspinall Packer Group (APG), which includes billionaire Kerry Packer.

And for the first time, the Echo can exclusively reveal how the Aspers, which beat off US company, Ameristar, will now join Cardiff council and sports village developers, Orion, in launching a campaign for the city to be chosen for the UK's first regional casino.

Cardiff council leader Rodney Berman said: "Both operators had strengthens but we felt Aspers would fit in better with our aspirations for Cardiff. The development will not be an in-your-face Las Vegas-style scheme but more discrete, and also there will be plenty for the family with restaurants, bars and entertainment throughout.

"This will enable us to provide the most exciting sporting facilities in Europe. We looked very carefully at the social and economic impact of similar casinos abroad and felt reassured that both operators biding for Cardiff would have provided good quality jobs, training, strict regulation and wider community benefits."

Damian Aspinall, of Aspers, said: "I am absolutely delighted. It is great news for Cardiff."

And Richard Olsen, chairman of Orion, added: "Together with APG, we will be working closely with Cardiff to persuade the Government that a regional casino should be located on the peninsula site."

The casino development in Ferry Road is expected to cost between £150m and £200m and it will help fund an indoor arena, including a new home for the Cardiff Devils ice-hockey team, and a snow centre.

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