Attempts to resurrect plans for a super-casino at the National Exhibition Centre received a boost yesterday as a powerful Government body backed the proposals.
Advantage West Midlands said it is supporting Birmingham and Solihull's bid to locate a £250 million gaming complex at the NEC as the campaign to put the proposals back on a national shortlist began to gain momentum.
The regional development agency was criticised when it did not come out in support of the plan which was rejected for final consideration by the Casino Advisory Panel earlier this month.
However, the CAP last week indicated that it would still consider fresh written evidence which may support bids omitted from the regional shortlist.
The NEC bid team has since given the CAP statistics relating to potential regeneration spin-offs that a regional casino would deliver, such as plans to build a £350 million multi-sport stadium in Saltley.
The bid team is now hoping that AWM's support, which follows a formal invitation from the CAP to comment on the provisional shortlist, will add further weight to the campaign.
AWM chairman Nick Paul announced the agency's backing following an assessment by independent consultants.
He said: "AWM recognises the importance that such a casino can bring to the region in terms of regeneration benefits through the creation of additional jobs and by attracting further inward investment.
"On behalf of the Board of AWM, I am delighted that the further evidence presented by the Solihull Metropolitan Borough team, in partnership with Birmingham City Council, demonstrates how a casino at the NEC can bring significant economic benefits to the region. It is for this reason we are backing this bid."
NEC group chief executive Andrew Morris said he was "absolutely delighted" that AWM had offered support.
He said: "Their support has always been critical to this process and it now provides a very clear signal to CAP that the West Midlands region is united behind the strongest bid and that the continued omission of the centre of the country from the regional casino shortlist must be addressed."
The NEC bid, along with proposals from Dudley Borough Council and Coventry City Council, failed to make the CAP's regional shortlist.