75 authorities spin the wheel for chance to have a casino

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The Government will this week reveal that 75 local authorities, from north-west pleasure beach Blackpool to the genteel Home Counties council of Sevenoaks, have applied for permission to build casinos.

The deadline for applications to the Casino Advisory Panel, which will decide where 17 new casinos can be built, closed on Friday. It is understood that around 46 authorities applied for the one regional or "super" casino, with another 29 vying to build casinos in the two other categories, large and small.

As well as Sevenoaks and Blackpool - which is seen as the front-runner to land the super casino - other regions hoping to get the go-ahead include Stevenage, Bournemouth, Restormel in Cornwall, Scarborough and Glasgow.

The City of Westminster has applied for two casinos, either large, small or one of each. A spokeswoman said no decision had been made as to where they would be.

The majority of authorities have held no discussions with potential operators. Some, however, are more advanced - Coventry, for example, is seeking the super casino and is already working with US gaming group Isle of Capri.

The Gambling Act has shaken up the UK's antiquated gaming laws, paving the way for a host of new casinos. But initial plans to allow unlimited super casinos were vetoed, after campaigners voiced concerns about that causing an increase in the number of gambling addicts.

A new figure of eight was settled on but this was scaled back again, to just one, in a deal with the Conservatives last year.

However, most commentators believe four super casinos is a likely outcome in the longer term. A spokesman for the Department for Media, Culture and Sport said the Government was currently only focused on one super casino but conceded more could get the go-ahead.

Should that happen, other likely contenders for the super casino are Glasgow, Cardiff and London's Millennium Dome.

The panel will reveal who has applied for what licences on Tuesday, before announcing which areas have been successful in December. Its decision will be based on a variety of criteria, including a social test and regeneration of the area.