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Bigger casinos are coming... eventually

James Moore,Deputy Business Editor
Friday 23 April 2010 00:00 BST

The "super casino" may have gone but legislation to create eight new "large" and eight new "small" casinos in Britain is on the statute.

But since January 2007 – when the locations were announced – nothing has happened. Industry experts say the problem is that, after the Casino Advisory Panel unveiled winning boroughs, Whitehall all but washed its hands of the matter, leaving the whole process of selecting operators and getting the things running to the 16 local authorities.

Next month bidding processes are supposed to be getting underway in two: Solihull and Newham, both of which have "large casinos" that will be allowed up to 150 slot machines. The latter is even hoping to have its venue open in time for the 2012 Olympics (the industry is sceptical). As for the rest: how long is a piece of string?

Casino operators have not exactly been pushing hard, given the way existing operations are going and because the top-rate of tax on their "gross win" from punters was raised to 50 per cent (from 40 per cent) which makes the economics extremely tight and is likely to limit the cash generated for "regeneration" that was the Government's intention in creating the concept. Consolidation has also meant there are less casino groups to bid against each other and many believe that at least a proportion of the planned new venues will never be built.

In addition to Solihull and Newham: Great Yarmouth, Kingston-upon-Hull, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Newham, and Southampton have been allocated the other large casinos. "Small" venues, with up to 80 slots, are supposedly being built in Bath and north-east Somerset, Dumfries and Galloway, East Lindsey, Luton, Scarborough, Swansea, Torbay and Wolverhampton.

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