Council chiefs will not throw their full weight behind Birmingham City Football Club's plans for a new multi-sport stadium until the Government clarifies its position on casinos, a senior councillor said last night.
Councillor Ken Hardeman, the city's cabinet member for regeneration, was speaking after new pictures were released of the proposed sporting arena which will be funded by a super casino operating under relaxed gaming laws.
Current legislation allows for only one super casino to be built in the UK, which will probably be located in Blackpool.
However, Coun Hardeman said the Government may amend its Gambling Bill, which would see the go-ahead being given for eight regional super casinos.
The council would then debate whether it would support a casino at the #200 million City of Birmingham Stadium, or at the National Exhibition Centre, which has also put forward proposals to build a casino.
The NEC option has been backed by its local planning authority, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.
Council leaders, the Chamber of Commerce and MPs in Coventry have also voiced support for a new super casino at the city's #113 million Ricoh Arena.
However, Birmingham's regeneration boss refused to give the council's backing for a casino at The City of Birmingham Stadium until a full debate at the local authority following a revision of the Gambling Bill.
Officials at Birmingham City FC have already said that the stadium would not become a reality unless casino giants Las Vegas Sands secure one of expected eight gambling licences.
Coun Hardeman said he could speak "from a personal view as the cabinet member for regeneration" in praise of the Birmingham City plan, which he called "very exciting".
He said he had been involved in discussions on the project for "many months" but the council would have to consider the proposals in full if it was to signal its intention to apply for a licence.
He added: "The club has shown its hand and they have already started to lobby for the council to come out and back them, which I think is an understandable move.
"There are other authorities up and down the land who have come out and said that they have a preferred choice of location for a casino.
"Also, there is no clarity yet on how many casinos there will be in the country. Until the Government clears that up we will not know whether all the council wants a casino or not, in Saltley or at the NEC."
The Government was forced to make concessions on its Gambling Bill to force it through Parliament before the election. This saw the number of proposed casinos drastically cut from the eight originally planned.
The move led Blues coowner David Sullivan to claim in The Birmingham Post the council did not have the ambition to back the super stadium, sparking the campaign to drum up support for the plan.
Birmingham City's chief executive Karren Brady yesterday said: "If we were to miss out because of a lack of support from our local authority in applying for the necessary casino, it would be a tragedy."
The Birmingham Post were first with the news of Birmingham City's stadium plans.
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