may not win shot at casino
Hurt by meetings with Brit official, The Denver mogul's plan
for a license in London may lose out to a perceived conflict
By Tom McGhee, Staff Writer
Thursday, July 20, 2006
A political firestorm in Britain over Denver business mogul
Philip Anschutz's meetings with British Deputy Prime
Minister John Prescott could doom Anschutz's plan for a
London casino, Parliament member Malcolm Moss said
Moss is a member of Britain's Conservative party and an
adversary of the Labor party government of Prime Minister
Tony Blair and Prescott.
Prescott's political enemies have accused him of violating
conflict-of-interest rules by meeting with Anschutz at the
billionaire's 32,000-acre ranch near Greeley and elsewhere.
But Blair has insisted there is no evidence that Prescott
has interfered in the casino-selection process.
Prescott's actions and the ensuing political brawl prompted
intense media scrutiny.
"I think this is thoroughly dead. With all the pressure
now, the papers will have a field day because of the links
with Prescott, Anschutz and (Anschutz company) AEG," said
Moss, a member of the House of Commons who monitors
government actions in gambling and tourism for his party.
Anschutz spokesman Jim Monaghan called the row a political
"food fight" and said he couldn't comment on Moss'
Prescott, Blair's second-in-command, has denied that the
meetings reflected a conflict of interest, saying he had no
influence over casino licensing, according to British media.
The British government will grant a permit for only one Las
Vegas-style casino, and an independent panel is charged with
picking a location.
The Millennium Dome application is one of eight on a
shortlist now. Other applicants have teamed with other
developers hoping to build the casino in other locations.
AEG, a Los Angeles-based subsidiary of the Anschutz Corp.,
has a lease with the British government to build an arena,
theaters and restaurants at the Dome on the River Thames.
The company has already begun construction on a sports and
AEG wants to lease space to Kerzner International, a South
African company that plans to build a hotel and casino on
the site. The casino is a central feature of AEG's plan for
the $1 billion entertainment project.
If the panel picks the Dome, other applicants will claim
that Anschutz's relationship with Prescott influenced the
decision, said Moss, adding that the result would be
Reportedly, Prescott met with Anschutz seven times beginning
in August 2002. He also is reported to have sat in
Anschutz's box at the AEG-owned Home Depot Center near Los
Angeles, where he watched a soccer game with Tim Leiweke,
AEG's chief executive.
"It's accepted that the Prescott affair means Anschutz
doesn't have the faintest chance of getting a license," said
a representative of a British business organization who
asked not to be identified because the group is not involved
in the matter.
"From the point of view of the other casino operators, they
are cock-a-hoop that this has happened because it means that
Anschutz is out," he said, using British slang for "elated."
But officials of the Borough of Greenwich, where the Dome is
located, remain optimistic, said Katrina Delaney, the
borough's head of communications.
"We haven't been told anything by the government to suggest
that the process has been altered. We put in a bid, we got
onto the shortlist, and it's still fingers crossed," Delaney
A spokesman for AEG said the company would not pull the plug
on the overall project if the casino location was not the
Dome, according to the South London Press. But he did
confirm that investment would be "reduced" because phase two
of the development, which includes a hotel and theater, is
dependent on the casino.
Staff writer Tom McGhee
can be reached at 303-820-1671 or