A leading property consultant has urged city council leaders to throw their weight behind proposals for the National Exhibition Centre to be the home of the country's first super-casino.
Julian Shellard, chairman of regional business at CB Richard Ellis, said he favoured the NEC option over plans by Birmingham City Football Club to build a casino on the site of a new multi-sport stadium yards from its current St Andrew's ground.
Mr Shellard said research undertaken by his company into the rival bids showed the NEC had a much stronger chance of winning a licence for a regional super-casino.
The Government plans envisage one regional casino getting the go-ahead, plus eight large and eight small casinos.
A regional casino in Birmingham would be worth an estimated £1 billion in its first ten years and would generate huge tourism and economic benefits, including about 7,000 jobs, according to the CB Richard Ellis research.
The NEC Group has teamed with MGM Mirage for its scheme, while Blues' partner is Las Vegas Sands. The CB Richard Ellis research claims a casino at the NEC will have more customers because conference centres attract affluent 25 to 44-year-olds, a target market for gaming centres.
The NEC provides better transport links and has a all-year-round footfall generated by events, the research claims.
The Blues bid, meanwhile, will cause disruption to the community, is costly and is too dependent on custom from football fans who only visit during the season.
The council will make a decision on its favoured scheme after a review on both bids by KPMG in mid-March. However, the NEC scheme would have to be submitted by Solihull Council to the Government-appointed Casino Advisory Panel.
A spokesman for Birmingham City said: "This analysis does reveal a lack of under-standing of the Birmingham Sports Village proposal, as well as the criteria by which all the proposals will be judged. It is clear that the winning city will be the one that delivers the most regeneration and maximum benefits." ..SUPL: