Are all bets off for city’s new casino?

Refusal of permission for a casino at a Leicester landmark could cost the city up to 250 jobs, it was claimed today.

A court refused to grant a casino licence for St George’s Tower just before Christmas because it felt there was not enough demand.

It is believed the applicant, Clermont Leisure, is considering an appeal.

Amir Zarbafi, the building’s owner, said without the GBP 8.7 million casino, a hotel planned as part of the GBP 33 million redevelopment of the building would employ substantially fewer people.

He said this was because the casino, which would be the biggest in the city, would bring more people into the area in the evenings and weekends.

„It would be a fundamental job loss to Leicester if that casino doesn’t happen,“ he said.

„Without a casino, a hotel operator would be creating 500 jobs. With a casino, it would be 750 jobs. The casino would probably employ 250 people.

„The effect won’t just be on this site. A casino would increase the number of rooms taken up in the city at the weekends.“

Clermont wanted to open the casino on the ground floor of the 22-storey building, off St Georges Way.

However, Leicester magistrates refused to grant a licence after Gala and Stanley Leisure, which already run casinos in Leicester, argued there was no need for a fourth casino.

Mr Zarbafi said he has been talking to four three-star and two four-star hotel operators about moving into the blue tower.

The four-star operators would only go in if the casino is approved.

He said he had also had „serious interest“ from several retailers about moving into the 30,000 sq ft ground floor section should the casino plan not happen.

Meanwhile, a number of businesses are looking at moving into the 150,000 sq ft of office space in the building, Mr Zarbafi said.

„There are some inquiries where people are seriously looking at it,“ he said. „Some are from Leicestershire and some are from outside.“

Mr Zarbafi said the redevelopment of the former British Telecom and Royal Mail building was eight weeks from completion.

He said the site, which will also include 24 apartments and a gym, would be able to accommodate 4,000 jobs.

John Nicholls, chief executive of Leicester Regeneration Company, said: „The extra jobs would have been helpful because we are trying to grow the service sector in the city.

„I’m pleased it’s weeks away from completion and will be even more pleased when it’s filled.“

No-one from Clermont Leisure was available for comment at the time of going to press.