spokeswoman for Quirke said there has been “tentative contact with Harrah” and discussions with “a number of key parties in the international gaming industry” on the proposed 460 million euros casino and leisure complex in Two-Mile-Borris. “For obvious commercial reasons, Quirke will not be commenting on his ongoing private contact with world industry leaders,” the spokeswoman said.
Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show former minister for justice Dermot Ahern was told by officials of the US company’s advisory role as far back as October 2009. “It is known that Harrah’s – a major gaming conglomerate – advised on the casino part of the development,” says an information note prepared by Michael Walsh, a senior civil servant at the casino gaming control section within the Department of Justice.
The note was drawn up following a September 2009 meeting between Walsh and promoters of the supercasino – Quirke, architect Brian O’Connell and Joe Kelly from AL Goodbody solicitors. The note names trainer Aidan O’Brien and concert promoter Denis Desmond as supporters of the project. “It is assumed that there are investors other than Quirke on board, including possibly some foreign ones,” it says.
Harrah’s Entertainment was rebranded Caesars Entertainment in November 2010. It operates more than 50 casinos worldwide and employs 70,000 people. It had revenues worth 8.8 billion euros last year. The firm made a submission to the Government review of gambling in Ireland, which is aimed at modernising the legal framework governing casinos and gambling.
The 16-page submission advocates the merits of “large-scale casinos”, which it says allows countries to target the “economic benefits of gaming to disadvantaged or other strategic locations”.
The submission claims that larger casinos can: incentivise investment in non-gaming amenities that attract tourists; attract customers who are middle income and above; generate the widest variety and greatest number of jobs; deliver lower regulation costs, and result in reduced actual and perceived social costs.
The ambitious project requires the Government to pass new legislation allowing the opening of casinos and needs to attract investment to cover its 460 million euros cost.