Birmingham City Council is relying on a four-year gagging order to block the release of information on plans for a super casino at Saltley.
Lawyers refused a Freedom of Information Act request by The Birmingham Post to publish in full details of an exclusivity agreement between the council, Birmingham City Football Club and American casino operators Las Vegas Sands.
The document prohibits the council from discussing or disclosing details of a casino and stadium development at the Wheels Park site with any person other than the football club or Las Vegas Sands until 2009 at the earliest.
A heavily-censored version of the agreement, which the council did agree to release, contains black lines scored through what lawyers deemed to be "commercially sensitive" information.
Sections of the document outlining conditions under which details could be disclosed have also been censored.
Unadulterated parts of the document, however, show that the council is planning to sell the Wheels site to Las Vegas Sands with the intention that the land would then be leased to the football club.
Council lawyers deliberated over The Post's request for 50 days, compared with a 20-day target under the Freedom of Information Act. A second request, for reports about the proposed Library of Birmingham, is still being considered by the council 54 days after being submitted. The Saltley casino would cost #117 million to get off the ground and Birmingham City FC's contribution would be about #12 million.
Other reports highlight the sensitivity of the casino issue, as councillors considered whether to support the Birmingham City FC scheme or back an alternative plan at the NEC - an organisation in which the council has a controlling interest.
Email correspondence in February between council strategic development director David Pywell and senior councillors warned of " considerable anxiety" about entering into an agreement with anyone other than Birmingham City FC.
Briefing papers for councillors and officials also raise major questions over the feasibility of a compromise deal under which income from a super-casino at the NEC would be used to help to pay for the #217 million City of Birmingham Stadium at Saltley, the new home for Birmingham City FC.
Mr Pywell described the issue as "extremely complex" because the NEC had made it clear it wanted to share in the profits from a casino.
The Birmingham Post is to appeal to the Information Commissioner against the council's refusal to disclose in full the exclusivity agreement.
Council solicitor Varun Shingari defended the decision: "Irrespective of the agreement, the information would have been withheld as it is commercially sensitive, under the exemption set out in section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act, as disclosure would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of the bidder, especially as there is a limited number of licences available and a considerable number of interested parties."
Mr Shingari said the censored information related to contractual obligations and arrangements between the football club and Las Vegas Sands.
Tony Lennox, acting editor of The Birmingham Post, said: 'There is clearly great public interest in Birmingham on the issue of a regional casino. This interest, I would argue, should override commercial concerns or any legal agreement the council has with other parties."