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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Dome super-casino 'not done deal'
Millennium Dome
The panel is due to give its final recommendations on 31 December
It is not a "done deal" that the UK's first super-casino will be sited at the Millennium Dome, the head of the Casino Advisory Panel has insisted.

The Dome is considered the frontrunner but "no decision" has been taken on that location over any other, said Professor Stephen Crow.

His comments follow accusations of bias towards the Dome from rival bidders.

Prof Crow also said John Prescott's stay at Dome owner Philip Anschutz's ranch would not influence his decision.

Venues in Blackpool, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield are also bidding for the licence on offer.

Hearings are being held during the next fortnight to cover all of the shortlisted locations.

'No decision'

There will be "no decision at all until we have considered everything", Professor Crow said.

Professor Stephen Crow
I do not know how I can spell it out - it is N.O.
Professor Stephen Crow

This will include "those proceedings over the rest of the week and those next week, and any other questions we think to ask afterwards", Professor Crow said.

"Is Greenwich a done deal for the regional casino? The answer to that question is no.

"I do not know how I can spell it out - it is N.O.," he told a public hearing in central London.

"We have made no such decision," he maintained.

Professor Crow acknowledged work by AEG, the company of Dome owner Philip Anschutz, to build the shell of its proposed super-casino before it had a licence to operate it.

However, the firm had not secured an advantage as a result of this, he insisted.

"I shall take that into account. I shall tell you shortly after Christmas whether I have taken that into account favourable or unfavourably, and indeed how much weight I shall attach to that."

In the absence of a full and fair explanation of the panel's decision, the council was left with no choice but to seek a judicial review
Michael White, Havering Council

AEG has warned that the building of two hotels and a theatre seating 1,800 people will be abandoned if it does not win the right to run the super-casino.

London mayor Ken Livingstone said that it was understandable that AEG should have begun such preparations during its wider redevelopment of the Dome site, next to the River Thames.

"In building all the stuff that will happen in the Dome with or without a casino, they'd be mad not to put all the shell in," Mr Livingstone told BBC London 94.9.

Meanwhile Havering Council in east London has begun legal action to overturn the omission from the shortlist of its proposed site in Rainham, near Dagenham.

"A super-casino would do much to further the regeneration of Thames Gateway," said council leader Michael White.

"Our case was fully supported by local residents.

"In the absence of a full and fair explanation of the panel's decision, the council was left with no choice but to seek a judicial review."

He added: "All the council wants is a fair evaluation of its submission."


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