The Association of U S West Retirees



AEG puts up shell, raises suspicion
By Tom McGhee, Staff Writer Denver Post
Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Philip Anschutz's company AEG has reportedly built a shell to house a regional casino at the Millennium Dome even though the London location has yet to win approval for a gambling license.

The British government will license only one regional casino and the Dome is one of six locations under consideration by a Casino Advisory Panel.

The shell construction has led opposition party politicians to Prime Minister Tony Blair's government to suspect that the project must already have won assurances that it would win a casino license, according to The Times of London.

But an AEG spokesman in London told the Evening Standard newspaper that the shell had to be built as part of the original construction of the backstage area of the arena.

"If it had not been (built) we would not have been able to open the complete arena on time by the end of June next year as required," said Patrick Keegan, the AEG spokesman.

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 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.

Anschutz, a publicity-shy business mogul, has had a tough time avoiding the glare of the media spotlight in Britain this summer.

Anschtuz's meetings with British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott ignited a political firestorm in the United Kingdom after they came to light.

Prescott's political enemies have accused him of violating conflict-of-interest rules by meeting with Anschutz at his ranch near Greeley and elsewhere.

Prescott, Blair's second-in-command, has denied that the meetings were a conflict of interest, saying he had no influence over casino licensing, according to British media.

A casino location is expected to be announced in December.