The man responsible for deciding the location of Britain's first Las Vegas-style casino insisted he had an "entirely open mind" as he formally invited councils to submit bids.
Professor Stephen Crow, chairman of the panel reviewing proposals for a regional super casino, said no decisions have been made.
It followed claims that the decision had already been made to award the casino to Blackpool, leaving the West Midlands the cold.
Prof Crow fired the starting gun on the contest to build the casino by publishing detailed guidance for councils to use when submitting bids.
Coventry and Solihull are both hoping to be chosen, while Birmingham is still deciding whether to submit a bid and has appointed chartered accountants KPMG to advise it.
The city could back a scheme at Birmingham City Football Club's £340 million multi-purpose sports stadium and gaming centre.
Alternatively, it may support Solihull's plans for a £250 million complex at the National Exhibition Centre.
Coventry is hoping to build a regional casino, at Coventry City Football Club's new 32,000-seat stadium.
There will be only one large regional casino, and 16 smaller ones. The Casino Advisory Panel will revive applications and make a recommendation to Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
Prof Crow said: "We know that there has been a great deal of speculation about where the 17 new regional, large and small casinos are to be located.
"We have already done some background research on the subject but until we see all the evidence, we are keeping entirely open minds and have no preconceived ideas where the casinos should go.
"That is why today we have formally invited local authorities who want a casino to provide us with evidence about their areas.
"We have published detailed guidance setting out the criteria we are using and the information we will require in order to assist our decision making."
Prof Crow warned authorities they must meet the March 31 deadline to have any hope of success.
He said: "It is also very important that proposals are sent to us by the closing date of 31st March so that we can allow time for a fair and thorough examination of that evidence."
But Labour MPs said they were concerned Birmingham's Conservative-led council had still not decided whether to back proposals for a scheme at the proposed new 55,000-seater City of Birmingham Stadium, in Saltley.
Khalid Mahmood (Lab Perry Barr) said: "There is huge potential here to regenerate a large area of inner Birmingham, which should be welcomed.
"We need to get our act together. It would be a tragedy to miss this because the authority was too slow making up its mind.
"We have missed out on major projects in the past. We have got to make a decision."