It will take more than a spin of a roulette wheel to decide who wins the right to house a possible new super casino in the region. Neil Connor explains and the two sides state their case...
Concerns have been raised that casinos increase crime levels, undermine moral values, and threaten the lives of individuals susceptible to addiction.
But every local authority wants one.
Why? Well, considering that US casino giant Las Vegas Sands is willing to effectively hand #117 million to Birmingham City Council for the right to build a casino in Salt-ley, councillors would be foolish to dismiss the opportunities that come with the ?evils? of gambling.
Politicians in Birmingham decided earlier this month to back plans for a super casino in the city. That was the predictable part. But it will be more tricky to determine where the casino should be.
The National Exhibition Centre was first to declare its intentions to build a casino. The complex announced plans to build one as part of a massive investment in the site in September 2004.
Then, two months later, The Birmingham Post revealed that Birmingham City Football Club had held meetings with Las Vegas Sands and senior councillors with a view to building a casino as part of its ?super-stadium? project.
The Government will probably only issue a handful of licenses for super casinos across the country and so civic leaders in the Midlands would be wise to develop a regional bid based on one site to improve the chances of it being successful.
It is thought that the ultimate decision on which casino the region will back will be taken by the West Midlands Regional Assembly. But it is a difficult choice. Both the Blues and NEC bids fulfil the Government?s criteria on regeneration opportunities.
Blues? new super-stadium would breathe new life into the Saltley area, which is one of the most deprived districts in the Midlands.
The NEC bid would offer employment opportunities for deprived communities in east Birmingham and north Soli-hull - areas heavily populated with Blues fans.
One idea that has been mooted by the Labour group at Birmingham City Council is to have the casino at the NEC and use the cash from that to build a new stadium in Saltley which Birmingham City could use for home games.
This looks, on paper at least, to be a ?win all? situation for Blues, the NEC and the city.
The NEC would get the casino and Birmingham City would get a new stadium. The council would be able to support its major exhibition complex and acquire a new ?sporting village? on the doorstep of Eastside.
However, Blues managing director Karren Brady spoke out against the plan only last week, claiming it would not provide enough cash for facilities to match both Blues? and the city?s ambitions.
The NEC has remained quiet on the possibility of it handing cash from the casino back to the local authority.
So it looks as if the next few months will see more developments as both sides put across their case to house the Midlands? first, and possibly only, super-casino.
Where should Birmingham's proposed super-casino be sited? Read the arguments for Saltley:
and the NEC:
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