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Archived News from January 2006

6th January 2006 21:53

Nottingham Evening Post
(On the front page)
05 January 2006

Nottingham Evening Post, 05 January 2006

A £100m Las Vegas-style casino could be built in Mansfield.


Las Vegas Sands Corp wants to construct the 150,000 sq ft entertainment centre on the training ground at Mansfield Town Football Club.
The development would feature a hotel, restaurants and bars.

If approved, it could be licensed by 2010, and bring 3,000 jobs to the town.

Rodney Brody, head of development for Las Vegas Sands in the UK and Europe, said: "People will be able to come in and feel part of their football club.

"There will be restaurants and entertainment areas, which would screen sport from all over the world.

"We would want people from Nottingham and the East Midlands to visit."

The company owns the Venetian resort in Las Vegas - a re-creation of the Italian city.

Meanwhile, Nottingham City Council has not formally approached the Government but said it might look at smaller casinos.

Broxtowe and Ashfield have also expressed an interest in casinos.
Nottingham Evening Post, 05 January 2006
Mansfield is in the race for a £100m Las Vegas-style casino offering unlimited jackpot prizes. And other Notts councils have expressed an interest in new casino licences for smaller venues. THEO USHERWOOD reports

The casino floor would cover 54,000 sq ft and boast 1,250 fruit machines with unlimited stakes and cash prizes.

And for those who prefer not to gamble, there would bars, restaurants and a hotel covering another 100,000 sq ft.

The development, which would be built beside Mansfield Town's Field Mill ground, would bring about 3,000 jobs to the town.

If all goes to plan for Las Vegas Sands Corp, Mansfield would become a major entertainment centre.

The US firm wants to take advantage of the Gambling Act of 2005 which allows for a super-casino - known as "regional" - in this country.

Present legislation stipulates that only one super-casino plus 16 smaller ones can be created. But the Government has suggested more could follow.

The US firm has a record of ambitious projects.

It built a replica of Venice in the middle of the Nevada desert, and also owns three other prominent Las Vegas casinos.

Rodney Brody, head of development for Las Vegas Sands in the UK and Europe, said: "Mansfield is close to Nottingham. It has a football club with land available and it's got good access.

"The major cities would come first but we have been in talks with Keith Haslam at Mansfield Town and the mayor.

"We are only interested in the regional casinos. The other ones are just peanuts to the kind of place we run.

"We would want people from Nottingham and the East Midlands to visit."

Mr Brody met Mr Haslam, chairman of Mansfield Town, and Mayor Tony Egginton, last March.

Mr Haslam said: "This is not pie in the sky. It would be great for regenerating the area.

"We are talking millions of pounds being invested in to the club. The local authority supporting the project is a major step forward."

Coun Egginton supports the project.

He said: "It's not just about gambling. It would be a facility for the whole of the community to use.

"It would be good for the club because it would mean attracting people to the ground not just on match days once a fortnight.

"And a successful club is good for the town. It would put Mansfield on the map."

The Act also outlined licences for eight other large casinos with a minimum floor space of 16,140 sq ft, with up to 150 category B machines offering prizes up to £4,000.

Another eight small casinos will have a minimum floor space of 8,000 sq ft and up to 80 machines.

Nottingham City Council has not formally approached the Government but said it might look at smaller casinos.

Ashfield District Council said it would consider a small casino.

Broxtowe Borough Council leader Milan Radulovic said he would be in favour of a small or large casino, but the council has not yet decided.

All other local authorities in Notts have expressed no interest in any sort of casino.

Leicester City Council, Derby City Council, Northampton Borough Council and City of Lincoln Council have not taken any steps either.

The only other interest in a casino at present is at Chesterfield.

Mansfield's Labour MP Alan Meale believes the Government is now trying to determine if more licences are needed.

The Gambling Bill Scrutiny Committee, of which he was a member, set the number of regional casinos at around 40.

But by the time the Gambling Act 2005 was passed last April it had been reduced to one, disappointing many American casino operators.

Mr Meale said: "I would say casino operators will get more licences because it is difficult for the Government to refuse with all the other forms of gambling.

"From an investor's point of view, Mansfield would be a great location because it is in the middle of the country. But there would have to be a full consultation with local people."

Las Vegas Sands has already signed up Sheffield United, Birmingham City and Glasgow Rangers football clubs.

Mansfield Town FC would follow in Las Vegas Sands' second wave of super-casinos which, if approved, could be licensed by 2010.

Jane Bransby from the advisory panel which will decide the location of all 17 casinos believes it has as good a chance as anywhere.

But campaign groups and some charities fear a super-casino could encourage more gambling addicts.

Today there are 300,000 problem gamblers in the UK, with an average debt of £25,000.

Mansfield is in the bottom 20% of the nation's poorest areas.

Professsor Mark Griffiths, a gambling expert at Nottingham Trent University, worked on drafting the Act.

He said: "You have to make sure that help is there for those few problem gamblers that can get into trouble.

You will see an increase in the number of problem gamblers but it won't develop overnight."

Patrick, a former gambling addict who now works for Gamblers Anonymous, said: "Gambling doesn't have the same physical affects as drink or drugs so gamblers can hide their problems very well."

Teresa Tunstall, from the charity GamCare, said: "Our position is not to stand up against casinos. That's for the Government and local people to do just as long as it is well regulated and there's provision made for problem gamblers."

It is estimated visitors to a super-casino loses on average £50 a trip.

Long-lasting controversy over casino proposals

THE Gambling Act 2005 has a chequered history and it looks set to cause further controversy as its measures are introduced.

March 2002: Publication of White Paper A Safe Bet for Success, outlining plans for up to 40 super-casinos.

November 2004: Government U-turn reduces the number of super-casinos from 40 to eight following pressure from Labour backbenchers and charities.

April 5, 2005: Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell announces an 11th hour deal to save the Bill. There will now be only one super-casino, eight large and eight small ones with a caveat that more could follow.

April 7, 2005: The Gambling Act 2005 receives Royal Assent.

November 11, 2005: Casino Advisory Panel asks all local authorities whether they would be interested in applying for one of the 17 new casinos.

January 2006: Invitation to local authorities to submit applications for a casino.

March 2006: Closing date for the submission of proposals from local authorities.

December 2006: Report on location of the new casinos.

September 2007: Gambling Act's full implementation.

2009: Opening of the first wave of 17 new casinos.

The Gambling Act - and what impact it will make

THERE were originally going to be an unlimited number of super-casinos offering unlimited cash prizes and stakes.

This was reduced to eight and then finally one, along with eight large casinos and another eight smaller casinos.

But when the Gambling Act 2005 finally received Royal Ascent last April, it was with the Government caveat that it will review the situation again.

Last October culture minister Richard Caborn said: "We will listen to Parliament, local authorities and the general public.

"If there is a mood change and the demand is there, we will consider it."

The regional casino will have a minimum customer area of 53,800sq ft and be allowed to house 1,250 category A jackpot machines with unlimited prizes.

The large casinos will have a minimum total floor space of 16,140 sq ft with up to 150 category B machines offering prizes up to £4,000.

The small casinos will have a minimum floor space of 8,000 sq ft and up to 80 category B machines.

The Act also introduced compulsory age checks on gambling websites, set up a new Gambling Commission to police the industry and created a new offence of permitting a child to gamble.

The super-casino's location will be decided by an independent panel by 2007.


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