Casinos fail to get roll of the dice

A GBP 7 million mega-casino on the site of a former nightclub in Fountainbridge has been knocked back by city licensing chiefs.

The Stanley Circus Casino looked set to be built at the site of the former Eros/Elite nightclub at Fountainpark, after it got the go-ahead from council planners last month.

But the licensing board rejected the bid, saying official figures of casino usage showed demand was already met in Edinburgh.

A separate bid to turn the Mecca Palais bingo club in Fountainbridge into a Grosvenor Casino was also rejected.

The decisions are a major blow for the gaming industry, as they appear to rule out any future stand-alone casinos. But casinos incorporated into other developments may still get approval.

There are currently four casinos in Edinburgh, three of which are already owned by Stanley Casinos – the Stanley Berkeley on Rutland Place, Stanley Cascades in Leith and Stanley Edinburgh on York Place.

The only other casino in the city is the Gala Maybury, five miles outside the centre at South Maybury Road. The new development by Stanley would have become the city’s biggest casino.

The development, which the company says would have created 150 jobs, would have also included a „fine dining“ restaurant, bar and lounge area, electronic gaming area, large gaming floor and a „sanctuary“ gaming-free zone.

A full suite of casino games was to be offered, as well as the latest gaming machines.

Presenting Stanley’s case at a licensing board meeting yesterday, Kevin De Haan QC said it would be „the most modern and the best casino in Edinburgh“.

He also countered claims that there was no demand for the facility by saying that, as the owner of three existing casinos in the city, Stanley Casinos would not set out to build a new development if there was no demand.

But the licensing board disagreed, pointing to Gambling Commission statistics it said proved there was no need for a fifth city casino.

The figures showed that, of the seven main casino games offered in the city, only in American roulette did the maximum number of players playing at one time in January 2006 exceed the capacity for the game.

And the average number of players using the tables was significantly lower than capacity in all cases.

Phil Attridge, the city council’s licensing leader, said: „There is ample provision within Edinburgh for casino users.

„The average usage figures show that there is significant spare capacity in the existing casinos.“

He said the decisions would have no bearing on Edinburgh’s bid to become host to one of the eight „super-casino“ hosts, as they would be massive regenerative retail complexes, as opposed to stand-alone casinos.

A site next to Murrayfield Stadium is being touted as a location for a super-casino, with SRU bosses understood to have had talks with potential operators.

The decision to reject the Fountainpark plans was a major blow for Stanley Casinos.

Its director of development, Steve Myers, said: „We are disappointed with the outcome and are considering our options for moving forward.“

Grosvenor Casinos said that its development at Fountainpark’s Mecca Palais, would be a higher quality casino that would appeal to a younger age group.