Anschutz project falling out of favor?
By Paula Moore
The Denver Business Journal
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Odds-makers have made the city of Blackpool the favorite in
the competition for Britain's first Las Vegas-style
supercasino, according to British press reports.
The O2, Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz's redevelopment of
the Millennium Dome in London, has long been the
front-runner in the competition for a license for the
The Casino Advisory Panel (CAP) will announce its
recommendation for which venue should get the license on
Jan. 30. The panel will make the recommendation to Britain's
culture secretary, Tessa Jowell.
Paddy Power Plc, Ireland's largest bookmaker, said Friday in
a statement that Blackpool became the favorite for the
license after "a flood of bets were placed." Located in
northwestern England on the Irish Sea, Blackpool was a top
U.K. vacation spot until the 1970s.
The $1.1 billion O2 entertainment venue sits on London's
Greenwich Peninsula, and is being developed by Anschutz's
Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) of Los Angeles.
AEG's gaming partner, Kerzner International Ltd. of the
Bahamas, has applied for the casino license, and would own
and operate the gaming establishment. The gaming property
also would include a hotel.
The casino and its license was the subject of controversy
last year, as Britain's parliament and Scotland Yard
launched investigations into possible conflict of interest
at meetings between Anschutz and Prescott related to the
Millennium Dome's redevelopment. Among those meetings was a
visit by Prescott to Anschutz's Colorado ranch last year, at
which Prescott accepted gifts from Anschutz. Both probes
But the Sunday Times of London recently reported information
has come out that government officials failed to disclose
details of one of Prescott's meetings with AEG. A private
meeting between Prescott and AEG execs in 2002 was excluded
from a list of meetings between the two.
Other cities chasing the casino license include Glasgow,
Scotland; Cardiff, Wales; and Wembley, Manchester and
Newcastle upon Tyne. Sheffield, England, recently dropped
out of the running.
The license winner likely will face opposition from British
health and church leaders because of a recent report on
gambling, according to the Sunday Times. A British Medical
Association report attributes a rise in gambling addiction
in Britain to the increase in casinos.
Last year, The O2 was the advisory panel's No. 1 choice
after preliminary judging, with 67 points out of a possible
80. Glasgow was second with 66 points, Blackpool third with
64 points and Sheffield fourth with 62 points.
But despite early judging, the competition for the license
recommendation is still a horse race, according to the
"The panel is at pains to point out that not too much
emphasis is put no those early rankings," Nick Crowther,
deputy head of the panel secretariat, told Britain's Press
Association. "They were merely to assist them in the