Quintain to bring Las Vegas to Wembley

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The Independent Online

The rundown land surrounding Wembley stadium will be transformed into a £320m Las Vegas-style casino, hotel and leisure complex, according to plans announced yesterday.

The rundown land surrounding Wembley stadium will be transformed into a £320m Las Vegas-style casino, hotel and leisure complex, according to plans announced yesterday.

Quintain Estates, which owns the land surrounding the stadium as well as Wembley Arena, has teamed up with Caesars Entertainment, of Caesars Palace fame in the US, to build what will be one of the biggest casino resorts in the UK.

Quintain and Caesars, which will develop 13 acres of land in a 50/50 joint venture, said more than 1,700 permanent jobs would be created by the new facilities. The leisure complex itself will be 650,000 square feet, one of the biggest announced, and will combine a casino with a 400-room luxury hotel. It will include a swimming pool with a rooftop sun terrace and spa facilities, and a number of restaurants, bars and retail outlets will be built alongside. Also planned is a large hall to hold exhibitions and conferences, and a space designed to host live performances.

The plans hinge on changes to gambling laws in Britain. The Government is expected to announce today its final plans for the Gambling Bill, which should open up Britain's casino market to new entrants. The Bill, expected to go through Parliament in a few months, paves the way for large Las Vegas-style casinos housing up to 1,250 slot machines that can pay out unlimited prizes in the UK. The casinos must, however, offer sufficient regenerational benefits to the area alongside gaming facilities. The Wembley plans will have to meet the parameters set out by the Gambling Bill, and will also require planning permission from Brent Council.

Caesars said the Wembley site would be the only place it would invest in the UK. A number of overseas casino specialists, such as Las Vegas Sands, MGM Mirage, Sun International and Isle of Capri, have been sizing up the UK for various sites. Sol Kerzner, the South African casino magnate, has an agreement to develop the Millennium Dome, but also has proposals for sites in Manchester and Glasgow.

Wallace Barr, the chief executive of Caesars Entertainment, said, "We have looked at a number of opportunities, but have focused all our dollars on Wembley. We believe the British people will quickly realise the enjoyment on offer from one of our entertainment venues."

The Caesars Wembley development will form part of a £1.3bn development of 42 acres around the Wembley stadium. Quintain already has planning permission to develop the land, creating 6,100 jobs and nearly 4,000 homes, 40 per cent of which will be designated affordable housing for lower-income workers. It will include further retail and restaurant outlets. Some £20m is being spent on refurbishing Wembley Arena.

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