A super-casino at the National Exhibition Centre would provide a financial lifeline to Birmingham City Council with £350 million flowing into the local authority's coffers over the first ten years, it emerged last night.
Details of a contract to build a giant gaming centre and hotel complex in conjunction with Las Vegas-based MGM Mirage have been announced by the NEC.
MGM Mirage will sign a 125-year lease, generating a potential income for the council well in excess of £5 billion.
But the deal can only go ahead if the council decides not to back a rival casino bid by Birmingham City FC.
The NEC will ultimately require the support of a Government-appointed panel, which will make a recommendation for the site of the country's first super-casino, and of Solihull Council, which must grant a licence.
NEC management were at pains last night to insist that Birmingham City's plan for a £300 million stadium complex at the Wheels site, Saltley, can still go ahead even if the football club fails to get a casino.
Andrew Morris, NEC chief executive, said the council could, if it wished, help finance the stadium from the proceeds of the MGM Mirage casino. He is to hold discussions with Blues chief executive, Karren Brady.
Mr Morris said: "The funding stream created by this plan can provide a regeneration legacy to Birmingham for years to come.
"If the council considers the stadium to be a really valuable part of Birmingham's future, then it now has it within its grasp to finance it."
The scheme, which was announced to the New York Stock Exchange yesterday, envisages a £ 250 million casino with bars and restaurants built alongside the NEC lake. There would also be a major upgrade for the NEC Arena.
A walkway across the lake to the Hilton Metropole hotel is under consideration, along with a new hotel.
Almost 7,000 jobs are likely to be created and a further 1.5 million visitors a year would be attracted to the NEC.
Mr Morris said a casino would transform the NEC from a conference-based facility to an " entertainment destination".
He added: "The difference between our approach and that of Birmingham City Football Club is that we have chosen to enter into a legally binding contractual arrangement."
He said the need to stage a competitive process among prospective casino operators in Britain and abroad delayed the NEC's announcement of the project. Birmingham City Council, which has a majority shareholding in the NEC, has until the end of January to decide which of the two casino bids to support.
MGM Mirage, one of America's leading entertainment corporations, runs 24 casinos in the United States and has a reputation for philanthropy - regularly donating a portion of its profits to good causes.
Mr Morris said: "The Government is very concerned about the social impact of gambling. MGM Mirage's social responsibility programme sets the standards and wins awards.
"We are determined to do this in a classy way to complement the NEC brand.
"Our expectation is that people who come here to conferences will play in the casino at the end of their working day. It will be a tremendous draw."
He said a key consideration was the NEC's 22,000 parking places and its proximity to the motorway and rail network.
"We expect most people to use the casino mainly at night, so it will be a car-borne journey rather than public transport. People will come here at night and are likely to go home after midnight.
"The generation of traffic will be significant, but outside of peak hours," Mr Morris added.
Coun Ted Richards, Leader of Solihull Council, said: "A regional casino in Solihull is an opportunity for areas such as Chelmsley Wood, Smith's Wood, Kingshurst and Fordbridge in North Solihull and East Birmingham, some of the most deprived areas in the region, to receive a muchneeded, sustainable boost that will help us tackle the problems of social exclusion."