Robinson to ask for re-think on casinos

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell is being urged to overturn the decision to reject every bid for a regional casino in the West Midlands.

The Government-appointed Casino Advisory Panel last week turned down all three applications for a so-called super-casino in the region.

But Coventry North West MP Geoffrey Robinson (Lab) has arranged a meeting with Tessa Jowell MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, in a last-ditch attempt to save the region’s bids.

He said: „I strongly believe the Casino Advisory Panel should reconsider its decision and recognise that it has made a mistake by producing a shortlist without a single site in the Midlands.“

The eight areas now vying to host the only super-casino in the UK include the Millennium Dome and Wembley Stadium in London‘ Blackpool, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.

Coventry had been hoping to build a GBP 95 million 107,951 sq ft super-casino at the Ricoh arena. It still plans to build a smaller casino at the stadium, which will be possible because of new and more liberal gaming laws.

Solihull also missed out, even though its bid was backed by Birmingham, and so did Dudley.

But Mr Robinson, who is currently chairman of Coventry City Football Club, said all three Midland proposals should be considered again.

The Government’s Casino Advisory Panel was to meet Advantage West Midlands, he said. „AWM will be meeting with them in the next couple of weeks and will be urging the CAP to reconsider their decision.

„I would therefore ask that all three bids from the Midlands be allowed the opportunity to make a special presentation to the CAP.

He would particularly push the Coventry proposal, he said.

„There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to see what we can do to turn this decision around.

„In terms of location the Coventry bid has everything going for it and the bid clearly delivers the Government’s wishes that a super casino should trigger regeneration and jobs. I shall be making these points to Tessa and ask where we fell short.“

The meeting, in the House of Commons, is planned for next week.

The regional casino shortlist announced last week was a provisional list, and applicants who failed to win a place are able to submit further information to strengthen their bid.

AWM has already announced it is to urge the Casino Advisory Panel to reconsider the provisional shortlist. It has written to the region’s 59 MPs urging them to put pressure on the CAP to change its mind.

Earlier this week, a senior Solihull borough councillor said the fight to secure a super casino at the National Exhibition Centre would continue.

Ian Courts, the cabinet member for regeneration, admitted he had been „staggered“ at the Casino Advisory Panel’s decision.