Solihull is a step closer to getting one of a new generation of casinos after the Gambling Act finally made its way through the House of Lords.
The borough is one of eight locations chosen by the Government for large gaming centres with 150 slot machines and a maximum jackpot of £4,000.
Although the National Exhibition Centre is the favourite site for a £100 million casino, the chief executive of one of Britain’s largest leisure firms is urging Solihull Council to consider other locations as well.
Rank Group, which is not one of the companies short-listed by the NEC for the casino project, said it was actively talking to developers about the possibility of identifying an alternative site for the new 1,500 sq m casino.
Under the Gambling Act, Solihull Borough Council must organise a contest to find the best site and operator for the casino.
NEC bosses see the casino and luxury hotel as a vital element in their strategy to transform the exhibition centre into a national leisure destination.
Deborah Smith, head of communications at the NEC, said a preferred partner for the project would be announced shortly.
Mrs Smith added: "The NEC site has always represented a very strong opportunity as a proposed site.
"A leisure and entertainment complex, incorporating a large casino, would provide a vital catalyst for wider investment which will allow the NEC to compete on a global scale and continue to support the regional economy by attracting even more visitors to the region, who will spend with local and regional businesses, and create over 1,000 new jobs.
"The NEC Group now looks forward to demonstrating that our partner and proposals represent the best possible outcome for Solihull, Birmingham and the wider West Midlands."
But Ian Burke, chief executive of Rank Group, which owns Grosvenor Casinos, said: "We look forward to learning more about how the council intends to hold open competition to decide where in the borough the casino should be located."
Mr Burke said the company was already talking to communities in Solihull about social issues surrounding gambling.
He added: "As Britain’s leading casino operator, Rank understands the responsibilities that come with running casinos right across the country. Wherever we have a casino we are aware of our social responsibilities.
"We have been active in Solihull in engaging with influential stakeholders such as church and faith groups, charitable organisations as well as business representatives.
"These meetings have been a useful starting point for building relationships and understanding with groups who have their communities’ best interests at heart. By listening to their concerns we have been able to discuss some of the general misconceptions relating to casinos and take on board their suggestions as to how a new casino can be best prepared to deliver its social responsibilities.
"We believe that a new casino is a welcome opportunity for Solihull and look forward to learning more about how the council intends to hold open competition to decide where in the borough the casino should be located."