Civic leaders in Blackpool say they are determined not to be sidetracked by claims from Birmingham that the seaside resort has already won the race to build Britain's first super-casino.
North-west politicians promised to continue campaigning and dismissed as "speculation" a comment by Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby that the Government is intent on granting a casino licence to Blackpool, whatever the quality of rival bids.
Blackpool Council leader Roy Fisher said: "It is interesting to hear this, but it is speculation. We have been, and are continuing to, work very hard to press Blackpool's case but we are taking absolutely nothing for granted.
"I do not believe any decision has been made. However we're confident that our sub-mission will be of the highest standard and will certainly impress on the panel Black-pool's need for regeneration."
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said speculation about the resort getting the super-casino had been rife for more than a year, but he warned against believing rumours.
Mr Marsden said: "This is just a distraction. The important thing is for Blackpool to push on with its bid."
Alan Cavill, head of corporate policy and development at Blackpool Council, said he knew nothing about a secret deal.
Mr Cavill added: "We would like to think we are the obvious choice but clearly we wouldn't want to be in a position of making any assumptions."
Earlier this week Coun Whitby (Con Harborne) told a Birmingham cabinet meeting that he believed Blackpool's casino bid to be "cut and dried".
His remarks were supported by Birmingham Yardley MP John Hemming. ..SUPL: