he council was one of eight authorities given a licence to run a super-casino by the last Labour Government. The licence allows operators to build casinos housing 150 slot machines with jackpots of up to us$ 6,000, and 30 blackjack and poker tables. City council chiefs hope the casino will be the catalyst for the proposed us$ 679.6 million redevelopment at Royal Pier, which may also feature hotels, restaurants, luxury flats and an indoor arena.
Formal applications to run the casino will be welcomed from April onwards, and the council will assess the various bids from August. But picking the preferred casino operator may take up to 18 months, with the authority’s licensing committee set to make a final decision with the help of an advisory panel of experts.
As previously revealed by the Daily Echo, Aspers, which opened the first super-casino in the UK in London last year, has already contacted the city council expressing its interest in running the site in Southampton. But it has now been joined in the competition by one of its biggest rivals in the casino market.
Rank Group currently runs 37 Grosvenor casinos across the country, including one in the LeisureWorld complex in Southampton. It also owns Mecca Bingo, and last week announced that it had reached an agreement to buy all 23 Gala Casinos for us$ 270.3 million. A spokesman said: “I can confirm that we are interested, but as it is early days it would be premature for us to talk further about it at this stage.”
Genting Casinos, which runs the Genting Club Terminus Terrace in Southampton, is also considering a bid. A spokesman for the firm said: “At this stage we are reviewing the opportunity of a new licence in Southampton, but cannot currently comment further as to whether we will progress any interest.”