Battle for casino licence hots up

The gloves came off this week in the battle to win the country’s single super casino licence when bosses at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre claimed its bid „outgunned“ Coventry’s in every department.

NEC chiefs spoke out after Coventry City Council claimed landing the super casino licence was vital to the regeneration of the city, particular in light of Peugeot’s decision to close the Ryton plant with the loss of 2,300 jobs.

Deborah Smith, the NEC‘s marketing and communication director, said this week the Birmingham bid promised to create more jobs than Coventry’s. She added the NEC‘s bid was „outstanding“ and „outgunned“ all of the other casino bids she had seen so far – including Coventry’s.

„If we win, we will provide 7,000 job opportunities, regenerate vast areas in north Solihull and east Birmingham, and bring in over GBP 0.6 billion revenue within the first ten years,“ Ms Smith told The Observer.

„Following the collapse of Ryton and Longbridge, this region desperately needs this scale of investment.“

But her claims have outraged Coventry City Council. Council leader Coun Ken Taylor branded Ms Smith’s statements „ridiculous.“

„I am rather surprised Ms Smith feels she is equipped to comment on the council’s ability to regenerate the city,“ Coun Taylor said.

He added the council’s regeneration programme started in the 1980s and the council was best equipped to help workers hit by the Ryton closure.

Defending the council’s bid for the super casino licence, Coun Taylor said the NEC‘s casino would take years to open, while a super casino at the Ricoh Arena could open its doors next year.

„The NEC‘s project, if it was granted the licence, is not likely to be up and running for five years, so it’s ridiculous to say you will give jobs to people made redundant next year,“ Coun Taylor added.

„Are they going to wait five years for a job?“

Council chiefs have asked the Casino Advisory Board to take into consideration the number of jobs recently lost in the city when deciding which super casino bid gets the licence.

But Coun Taylor said: „I am not suggesting everybody’s going to work at the Ricoh, that ’s ridiculous.

„It’s everything that’s going to be generated around it, the hotels and restaurants and entertainment.“

The successful bid looks set to be announced in November.