Cardiff presents super-casino bid

A hearing to put forward Cardiff’s bid to site the UK‘s first super-casino has heard all bidders still have a chance.

The Casino Advisory Panel chairman said it was „wide open“ between the seven locations hoping to win the licence to run a 24-hour Las Vegas-style venue.

Only one super-casino is initially being permitted under the terms of the Gambling Act.

Assembly government, police, tourism officials and Community Action for Responsible Gaming attended.

Cardiff council’s bid is tied to its sports village development in Cardiff Bay, and has said it needs the casino to finish the project in time for the 2012 London Olympics, when it hopes to be a host venue.

Tom Morgan, for Cardiff Council, told the panel that the city was uniquely placed to host the super-casino.

He said awarding it to Cardiff would also help the UK and Wales host the Ryder Cup at Newport in 2010 and the Olympics in London two years later.

„Cardiff has a track record in developing major projects on time and on budget,“ he said.

The hearing took place at a city hotel.

In representations, Cardiff council said the casino itself would create 1,500 out of 5,000 jobs associated with the sports village.

The interlinked projects are projected to add £265m to the local economy annually.

It also said local residents, which the council acknowledged were some of the most deprived communities in Wales and the UK, would benefit from the development through training and employment opportunities.

However, Professor John Lovering of Cardiff University questioned the council’s 5,000 job figures, saying the true figure would be a few hundred.

„There has been a certain degree of a lack of rigour or shall I say, sleight of hand, in terms of the figures on job creation.“

‚Exciting‘

If the casino bid is successful, the whole sports village project would be completed by 2010 and include a 50m swimming pool, an indoor snow facility, a 4,000-seater multi-purpose arena, ice rink and hotels, bars and restaurants.

The leader of Cardiff Council, Rodney Berman, said the possibilities for regeneration put Cardiff ahead of other venues.

He said that if the bid was successful, the sports village could be completed more quickly, which would provide „exciting sporting opportunities for everyone in the community to enjoy.“

But Major Peter Moran from the Salvation Army said there were concerns that the area could see a rise in „problem gambling“.

He said: „The proposal here in Cardiff is to have the new super-casino at the centre of a family venue and that worries me greatly.“

‚Wide open‘

Professor Peter Collins, an expert in gambling from Salford University in Manchester, said the economic and social make-up of Cardiff and the surrounding area made it vulnerable to the problems associated with gambling.

He said: „The market for new gambling products will be found in communities where there are a lot of less-affluent people and that means places like Cardiff and Glasgow… it doesn’t mean the home counties.“

The other six sites competing for the licence are the Millennium Dome at Greenwich – the frontrunner in the first round of judging in May – Glasgow, Blackpool, Sheffield, Newcastle and Manchester.

Professor Stephen Crowe, who is chairing the panel, said all venues were still in with a chance.

He told BBC Wales: „I wouldn’t spend a lot of time travelling round the country just messing around, if everything wasn’t wide open.

„I believe in doing a serious job,“ he added.

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