Officials behind plans to locate a regional casino at Coventry's Ricoh Arena reacted with anger yesterday after the regional development agency came out in support of a rival bid.
Advantage West Midlands said it was supporting Birmingham and Solihull's proposals to site a £250 million gaming complex at the National Exhibition Centre.
The move sparked a furious response from Coventry's business community, who claimed the £95 million Ricoh scheme was the most "advanced" in the region.
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said it was a "massive understatement to say we are disappointed" with AWM's decision to back the NEC's proposals.
Ms Bennett said: "We believe Coventry has proved itself over the past three or four years to have the best case for the casino and would have anticipated greater regional support."
The Coventry proposals, together with those from Solihull and Dudley, were over-looked by the Casino Advisory Board when it announced its regional casino shortlist a month ago.
However, Solihull and Coventry have signalled their intention to appeal against the decision.
Stuart Linnell, chairman of the Coventry branch of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "We still believe the city has an excellent case and the Chamber is lobbying, in conjunction with Coventry's three MPs, to make our opinions known in Westminster."
Brian Woods-Scawen, chairman of the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Partnership, said: "We are anxious to have the support of as many agencies as possible towards securing such a complex for the city, which would create thousands of jobs and help to provide a huge boost to the region's economy.
"Advantage West Midlands helped finance the magnificent Ricoh Arena scheme and we want to work with them to ensure its potential as an asset for the region is fulfilled through continuing support for this magnificent stadium.
"AWM's mission is to support economic development across the region. We do not understand the basis on which they have overlooked the claims of the Coventry casino project which is by far the most advanced in the West Midlands."
An AWM spokeswoman said the agency had backed Solihull's scheme on the eve of the consultation deadline, and it would not be changing its position. "We recruited independent consultants to work with each of the schemes and help beef them up," the spokeswoman added.
"They also came back to us with evidence which indicated that it was the NEC that we should go for. That decision was endorsed by the board of AWM."
The regional development agency was criticised when it did not come out in support of the NEC plan before the shortlist was drawn up by the CAP. Bosses at AWM said it was not permitted to comment on any scheme before the panel made its announcement.
However, the CAP last week indicated that it would still consider fresh written evidence which may support bids omitted from the shortlist.
The agency then threw its support behind the bid to create a Las Vegas-style venue at the Solihull complex.