Asian online gaming company 138.com is eyeing a disused office building in Birmingham's Southside district to create a mixed-use entertainment complex.
The company, already known to football fans in the UK through sponsorship deals with Newcastle United and Watford, has submitted plans to transform Chaplin Court, in Hurst Street, into a mix of uses including a betting shop, restaurant and karaoke bar.
If given the green light, it would benefit from its location in the gay quarter and proximity to the Hippodrome and Chinatown.
Property consultancy GVA has been trying to let the four-storey building for three years but said in a planning report there had been little interest.
"The property attracted only a limited number of viewings from potential office occupiers," it added.
"None of these resulted in an offer to occupy the building in office use (therefore) it is extremely unlikely it will attract an office occupier.
"Whilst not a suitable property for many office occupiers, the building is of interest to leisure and entertainment operators given its location on the edge of the Arcadian Centre."
138.com was founded about ten years ago and recently established a European arm with this application submitted through subsidiary Xela Estates
Its main business is online betting and gaming but it is now expanding into betting shop premises and partnering with other leisure and entertainment operators to deliver mixed- use sites aimed at the higher quality end of the market.
Chaplin Court is owned by Black Country-based London and Cambridge Properties which intends to lease the building to Xela Estates.
138.com would operate the ground and first floors itself and lease out other available units although not all of the building forms part of this application which covers 16,412 sq ft in total.
GVA's report added: "The applicant considers that Birmingham offers an excellent opportunity for investment, and, as such, the city is one of the first of several locations around the UK where it intends to deliver new mixed-use leisure and entertainment venues."