Hotel’s casino bid is rejected

A city hotel’s bid to convert most of its ground floor into a casino was today branded a loser.

Thistle Hotels chiefs want to introduce the money-spinning wheeze in four London properties and a network of 12 provincial hotels, including its branch on the corner of Hagley Road and Portland Road in Edgbaston.

But the tables have been turned in Birmingham by planners who threw out the bid after accusing the chain of trying to change its city hotel into a „casino with bedrooms“.

Around 100 staff were to have been hired to operate the self-contained casino between noon and 6am every day.

Coun Peter Douglas Osborn told his colleagues: „The wage bill is around GBP 2.5 million a year and to cover that a lot of people will have to lose an awful lot of money.

„The number of people passing through this casino would have to be of industrial proportions.“

Coun John Clancy said the hotel chain was trying to „come in through the back door“ to take advantage of the relaxation of gaming regulations.

A senior QC advised councillors they must consider the view of an ordinary person walking into a hotel with 60 per cent of its ground floor taken up by a self-contained casino.

„Would he come to the conclusion he had entered a hotel with a casino or a casino with bedrooms,“ he said.

„He might consider the answer to be clear if he saw from a name plate that the casino was called The Birmingham Gaming Club Ltd.“

A Thistle Hotels representative said the casino was part of the normal facilities offered to hotel guests such as a health club.

He said that his precedent had been set by the Ritz in Piccadilly which had a casino operation.