he sale to Quek, a well-known high-roller, is believed to be contingent on Clermont Leisure, the billionaire’s UK casino business, being granted consent from the authorities to move the licence to a new location in the Guoman Hotel at Marble Arch.
The closure of the Ladbrokes Casino & Sport Bar comes less than a month since London Clubs International (LCI) pulled down the shutters on its high-roller casino at Fifty, the private members’ club in St James’s. The loss-making club is to be put into administration.
The Paddington venue opened in July 2006 at a time when Ladbrokes was planning to apply for more than half the 17 new casino licences envisaged under gambling deregulation. It then opted to put the site up for sale in February 2008 after the Government backtracked on its deregulation plans.
The Paddington casino has proved an expensive diversification for the bookmaker. Having been set up as a us$ 8.3 million joint venture with Alan Goodenough, the former LCI chairman, Ladbrokes bought out his 65 % stake in 2007 for us$ 18.5 million. It has since written down its value by us$ 18 million in two tranches.
Quek, whose leisure interests are held through Guoco Group, part of his Hong Leong empire, entered the UK casino market three years ago via the £31 million acquisition from Rank Group of the Clermont, the Mayfair club where Lord Lucan once played bridge with the likes of Sir James Goldsmith and John Aspinall
Since then, Clermont Leisure has secured gaming licences in Glasgow, Middlesbrough, Bradford and Wolverhampton, and Guoco has built a stake of 28 % in Rank, sparking speculation that it could launch a bid for the whole company.