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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 September 2005, 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK
Rangers FC score with casino plan
Artist's impression of the casino
An artist's impression of the casino complex
Rangers Football Club have been granted planning permission by the city council for a 120m casino and hotel complex beside their Ibrox ground in Glasgow.

The club has predicted that it will create about 2,000 jobs and help to diversify the Rangers brand.

The UK Government plans to allow one regional or "super" casino, which can install Las Vegas-style machines with the potential for unlimited prizes.

Glasgow council wants the regional casino to be built in the city.

The Rangers project, which includes flats, a community sports facility and a health care centre, has been given outline permission by the council's planning committee.

A council spokesman stressed it did not automatically follow that if Glasgow won the right to host the regional casino, it would be located at Ibrox. Tuesday's decision was made solely on planning grounds and gambling licence issues would be discussed later, he added.

The decision puts Glasgow significantly ahead of the rest of the UK in the race to secure the regeneration that a regional casino licence will bring
David Murray
Rangers FC chairman

Rangers have entered into a partnership with Las Vegas Sands Inc. whose president William Weidner said last year that it intended to bring "fun, increased employment and enhanced public facilities" to the area.

At the centre of the development is a 168,000 sq ft leisure and entertainment complex on land beside Ibrox and the nearby Albion car park.

The Gambling Act (2005) originally included plans to allow an unlimited number of regional casinos but this was reduced to one in the first phase to minimise the risk of an increase in problem gambling.

Independent panel

The "regional" casino proposals - which have also become known as "super" casinos - allow for complexes larger than the UK's existing 134 casinos.

The Gambing Act created three categories of casino - "regional", "large" and "small". An independent panel will advise on suitable locations for all new casinos and will produce a list of recommended areas for each category towards the end of 2006.

The complex will be built beside Rangers' ground in Govan

If Glasgow is included in the shortlist for the regional casino, it will then be up to the city's licensing board to consider applications to run the complex.

One of these will come from the Rangers/Las Vegas Sands partnership.

Glasgow City Council confirmed last week that it planned to bid to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to host the regional casino.

But its leader, Steven Purcell, said: "Anyone who wishes to operate a super casino in Glasgow will have to fund programmes designed to prevent excessive gambling and assist those who have gambling problems.

Local jobs

"We will be in competition with cities from across the UK, however we believe that we have not only the infrastructure, but the best economic case for bringing a regional casino to Glasgow."

Rangers chairman David Murray said: "The decision puts Glasgow significantly ahead of the rest of the UK in the race to secure the regeneration that a regional casino licence will bring."

Local people would have the opportunity to apply for at least half of the predicted 2,000 new jobs. Unemployment levels in the Govan area are currently about 14%.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Lesley Sawers said: "A development of this type would bring important opportunities for our members and for the people and the city of Glasgow."

He added: "There is no reason why we should not benefit from being the first location to have a regional size complex in the UK and we would welcome it here."

Watch Alan Mackay's report

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