A group representing Birmingham's professional and financial services community is the latest organisation to back plans for a super-casino at the National Exhibition Centre.

Birmingham Forward said 69 per cent of respondents to a survey preferred the NEC bid to a rival casino proposal by Birmingham City FC.

The result of the survey was announced the day after it emerged that the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry is recommending its membership to support the NEC proposal.

A third business grouping, the Institute of Directors, is consulting over the issue and will announce its view shortly.

Simon Murphy, the chief executive of Birmingham Forward, said four out of five members thought Birmingham should be actively seeking to secure a super-casino licence. Mr Murphy added: "With this in mind they have gone on to give their backing to the bid they believe is most likely to be both successful and the strongest net contributor to the Birmingham economy."

The Birmingham Forward survey showed that:

* 72 per cent believe the NEC bid is the easiest to deliver and so more likely to be successful;

* 75 per cent think the NEC would win "hands down" over the football club when it came to attracting visitors;

* 51 per cent rate the Birmingham City plan the best for regeneration, while 49 per cent think the NEC is better.

Mr Murphy added: "The NEC's credibility and expertise combined with the support for the bid from both Birmingham and Solihull should give it a strong platform when being reviewed by Government.

"Our members believe the NEC is already an easily accessible destination and that its attraction will only be enhanced by the casino."

He said the commitment of the American corporation MGM Mirage, the NEC's chosen casino partner, to recruit staff from unemployed people locally and to provide skills training was seen as very important.

Mr Murphy added: "Overall, our members support the concept of a super casino in the Midlands, recognising the potential benefits it could bring in terms of investment and regeneration.

"On balance, they believe the NEC bid is most likely to succeed and this is why they have given it their support. It is important to note, however, a minority of members have raised concerns about the promotion of gambling."