Anschutz's O2 in lead for casino license
The Denver Business Journal
Tuesday, December 5, 2005
Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz's $1.1 billion The 02
project in London apparently remains the front-runner to get
a license for a super-casino from the British government,
according to British press reports.
The 02 includes the controversial Millennium Dome venue,
built to celebrate the switch to the new millennium in 2000.
The license was scheduled to be awarded by the end of this
year, but now is expected to be given in January.
A recently published, 92-page research report for the Casino
Advisory Panel, which will recommend where the single
super-casino should be to government ministers, suggests the
London venue would be the best place for the casino from
social and economic perspectives.
The report says the casino should be located away from areas
frequented by children and teenagers, and The 02 is on the
Greenwich Peninsula near London.
The research also stated that the casino's success would be
enhanced by being part of a larger entertainment complex.
The 02, being developed by the Denver businessman's
Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc. in Los Angeles, is the
redevelopment of the Millennium Dome and is slated to
include other entertainment-oriented components such as a
movie theater, performance venue, hotel and restaurants.
Kerzner International Ltd. of the Bahamas
would build, own and operate the casino, if The 02 gets the
nod for it. The 02 is under construction, and is expected
to open in July 2007.
But the Casino Advisory Panel's chairman, Stephen Crow,
recently warned readers of the report not to read too much
into it. "The intention was that this background research
work would assist in the scoping phase of our work," Crow
said in a statement. "It has not been relied upon in
reaching our conclusions."
The Cardiff School of City and Regional Planning wrote the
Other locations vying for the casino license include
Glasgow, Scotland; Cardiff, Wales; and Blackpool, Wembley,
Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne and Sheffield in England.
Even with such competition, The 02 of London has been the
casino front-runner for a while.
After the first round of judging by the Casino Advisory
Panel this summer, The 02 came in first with 67 points.
Glasgow came in a close second with 66 points, and Blackpool
was third with 65 points. Locations were judged on things
such as social impact, need for redevelopment, willingness
to license, community benefits and unique characteristics.
The 02's bid for the license became embroiled in controversy
this summer, amid complaints by some politicians that Deputy
Prime Minister John Prescott's multiple visits with Phil
Anschutz, including a stay at his Colorado ranch, may have
violated conflict-of-interest laws. Prescott and AEG
executives denied any wrongdoing. Both Scotland Yard and
Prime Minister Tony Blair found no grounds to pursue the
complaints past preliminary investigations.