Casino warns city on competition

One of Swansea’s existing casinos has warned the city may not be able sustain another competing gambling venue.

Swansea is one of 16 places chosen by the UK government to become a regional gambling centre.

Aspers, which opened a GBP 13m complex in the city last year, said it would be bidding for the new licence to develop its current business.

But it warned if a new operator opened in Swansea under the plans it could „drain life from the city centre.“

If Parliament passes the bill Swansea Council will decide who the licence is awarded to.

It will allow for a casino of up to 80 gaming machines with a maximum jackpot of GBP 4,000.

The council said it would invite applications from across the industry when the time came.

Aspers opened at the Salubrious Place leisure development near Wind Street six months ago.

When plans were first announced for a casino at the site in 2004 it was said it would create 500 jobs.

Aspers said it employed 200 at its launch but would not discuss current staffing levels.

However the company, which also has a casino in Newcastle, said Swansea had met all its business targets and now had a membership of 45,000.

Chairman Damian Aspinall said: „We operate a highly successful casino in the centre of Swansea’s vibrant entertainment district.

„We believe that it is essential that Swansea uses the new licence to support the continuing growth of Aspers.

‚Good job opportunities‘

„The city needs to build on the success of the existing central entertainment area which has got critical mass and which benefits from the diverse customer base brought by Aspers.

„Swansea must avoid any temptation to drain life from the city centre by allowing another facility to be created which would compete on an unequal basis with our popular and growing business.“

Following Tuesday’s announcement about the regional gambling centres council leader Chris Holley said: „The new licence represents a significant new opportunity for the city to further broaden its growing leisure and entertainment offering.

„Swansea is a city currently developing in a very positive way and this will continue that trend. Alongside the newly developed LC [leisure centre], the new casino will help us attract visitors to Swansea and boost the local economy.

„There are likely to be many good job opportunities created by this new type of casino.“