Despite concerns about the regulatory and tax environment in the UK, Harrah’s Entertainment seems to be ready to take another punt on the nation. The company announced it had hired London-based Insight Public Affairs as an adviser to compete for new gaming licenses in the United Kingdom.
Eight large casinos – with up to 150 slot machines and jackpots up to USD 7,931 – are up for grabs, to be opened in Leeds, Southampton, Great Yarmouth, Middlesbrough, Solihull, Hull, Milton Keynes and Newham. In 2006, Harrah’s purchased London Clubs International, one of the leading casino operators in the U.K.
Jan Jones, senior vice president of communications and government relations for Harrah’s Entertainment, said: “The U.K. casino industry faces unprecedented issues and threats from government and regulators. As industry leaders in responsible gaming, Harrah’s Entertainment and London Clubs International are engaging in the gaming public policy debate to ensure the regulatory and policy environment is balanced for customers, the communities where gaming is located and the industry alike.”
In an interview with Global Gaming Business in May, Harrah’s Chairman and CEO Gary Loveman wrote off the possibility of the return to a “super-casino” concept anytime soon.
“I think it’s very unlikely that that happens anytime soon,” Loveman said. “The political will to move on that has dissipated entirely. I’m in that market frequently. Of course it’s a constant subject of discussion, but I would be stunned if there was a meaningful effort to move in that direction anytime in the next couple years. If it comes back credibly then we would certainly be interested, but I don’t see it. I wouldn’t hold your breath.”