Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Casino Panel in Firing Line as Dome Battle Gets Dirty

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Casino Panel in Firing Line as Dome Battle Gets Dirty

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY

THE credibility of the panel choosing Britain's first supercasino was under fire today as a public hearing into the Dome bid got under way.

Local protesters said the gambling resort was being foisted upon them while rival bidders bitterly complained at what they saw as bias in favour of the Greenwich site.

In a further blow, a rival bidder that failed to make the shortlist is threatening legal action against what it claims was discrimination. Havering council believes its plan for a casino at Rainham, in the heart of the Thames Gateway, was equal to the Dome's bid but was dumped without good reason.

In a statement, council leader Michael White said: "If our proposal is not reinstated onto the panel's shortlist following our representations, it will severely damage Havering's confidence in the integrity and objectivity of the selection process.

"In those circumstances, the council would be obliged to consider what further course of action may be available to ensure fair consideration of our proposals." Members of the five-strong Casino

Advisory Panel aim to recommend a winning site for the first - and so far, only - supercasino site by December.

The winner will have a licence to print money, say critics, with a Las Vegas-style resort offering all-night gaming and unlimited jackpots.

Seven bidders are left in the race, headed by the Dome whose developers Anschutz Entertainment Group have come under scrutiny for giving hospitality and gifts to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

The panel members were formally appointed by Sports Minister Richard Caborn after the posts

were advertised in the press and a shortlisting process carried out by an independent selection board.

The setting up of the advisory panel was agreed by cabinet subcommittees overseen by Mr Prescott, although he did not choose the members. …

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