hearings to begin on 'Super Casino,' with Anschutz one
The Denver Business Journal
Friday, August 24, 2006
Public hearings start next week at the eight short-listed
locations in England competing for a Las Vegas-style "super
casino" license -- including the Millennium Dome being
redeveloped by Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc. (AEG).
AEG is one of Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz's companies,
and Anschutz has come under scrutiny this summer because of
meetings he had with British Deputy Prime Minister John
Prescott related to the dome.
The British press also recently reported that AEG already
has built the shell of a 150,000-square-foot casino at the
dome, even though the project hasn't yet gotten a license.
The Anschutz company has said it will scale back the dome's
redevelopment "considerably," if it doesn't get the casino
license, The Times of London recently reported. That
downsizing could include scrapping two hotels, a theater and
an exhibition area.
The Casino Advisory Panel charged with granting the casino
license by year-end will oversee the public hearings,
according to British press reports.
The meetings will be held in the areas under consideration.
In addition to London, home of the Millennium Dome, those
locations include Glasgow, Scotland; Cardiff, Wales; and
Blackpool, Wembley, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne and
Sheffield in England.
Speaking at the meetings is by invitation only, and there
will be a limited number of places for media and the public
to observe, according to The Scotsman newspaper. No
question-and-answer periods will be offered.
AEG, based in Los Angeles, is using the Millennium Dome as
the core for a new, $1.1 billion entertainment complex
called The O2. The complex is to include an event venue,
movie theater, hotels, restaurants and casino.
The Anschutz company's partner in the casino is Kerzner
International Ltd. of the Bahamas, which would build, own
and operate the casino.
The casino and its license have been the subject of
controversy in recent months, as Britain's parliament and
Scotland Yard launched investigations into possible conflict
of interest at meetings between Anschutz and Prescott
related to the dome's redevelopment. Among those meetings
was a visit by Prescott to Anschutz's Colorado ranch last
At issue is whether or not Prescott violated British law
against accepting hospitality and gifts that might make him
obliged to the giver, or appear to be obliged.
AEG admitted this week that it has already built the shell
of The O2's casino, according to The Times of London.
Conservatives claim the construction work shows the
government must already have assured AEG it will get the
AEG said it had to start on the casino shell early because
it's too expensive to wait until December to start
construction, The Times reported. The casino should open in
18 months if Kerzner, the official applicant for the
license, gets it.
The O2 is scheduled to open in July 2007. The venue already
is scheduled to host Summer Olympics events in 2012 and the
Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in 2009.