A regional casino, more commonly known as a super casino (or occasionally known as mega casino or other variants), is the term given to the largest category of casino that was to have been permitted under UK law – equivalent in size to the larger casinos in Las Vegas. The first regional casino was initially proposed to be in the City of Manchester, but the scheme was scrapped by the UK government in 2008, soon after Gordon Brown became Prime Minister.
The Gambling Act 2005 revised many regulations relating to gambling in England. Amongst the most controversial provisions was the establishment of a number of 'destination casinos' in the style of Las Vegas, commonly referred to in the media as 'super casinos'
Initial drafts of the act proposed eight regional casinos but concerns expressed in the national media and by a range of addiction related social and religious groups meant that the final revision of the act permitted only one casino of the largest size, referred to as a 'regional casino', with a further eight 'large' and eight 'small' casinos of a smaller sizes and with reduced jackpot limits.
Prior to the act there were 140 casinos in the UK, the largest of which in Star City, Birmingham had a floor area of around 950 square metres (10,200 sq ft). Customers were required to register twenty-four hours prior to gaming.
Definition of casino types
Under the terms of the Gambling Act the Secretary of State is able to define each type of casino, with reference to any matter he or she chooses; although the act specifically mentions as facts to consider the number, location and concentration of gaming tables, and the floor area designated for a specific purpose.
Definitions have been determined such that the 'super casino' will have a minimum customer area of 5000 square metres and at most 1250 unlimited-jackpot slot machines.
'Large casinos' will have a minimum area of 1000 square metres and up to 150 slot machines with a maximum jackpot of £4000.
The 'small casinos' will have a minimum customer area of 750 sq metres, up to 80 slot machines and a jackpot of £4000.
In May 2006, a short-list of eight sites, selected from various ones submitted by local councils, was announced for the location of the regional casino. These were:
- Wembley Stadium, Brent, London (which removed itself from consideration prior to the decision being made)
- The O2, Greenwich, London
- Eastlands, Manchester
- Bramall Lane, East End (Don Valley Stadium) or Meadowhall Centre, Sheffield
- Glasgow Many sites were put forward; including Ibrox Park
Wembley was later ruled out, according to the BBC "The decision came after the local council withdrew its support for the proposed £335m ($632m) gambling venue". This brought the number of potential venues down to seven. The O2's casino site was involved in controversy after it was revealed that John Prescott had stayed at the ranch of Philip Anschutz, whose Anschutz Entertainment Group is involved in the reopening of the dome site as a sporting and entertainment venue. On 30 August 2006 it was reported on the BBC Radio 4 7 o'clock news that construction on The O2's super casino site had already started, despite the site of the casino being reportedly stated by the Government to still be in the consultation phase. Sites rejected at this shortlisting phase included:
- Great Yarmouth
- Solihull (National Exhibition Centre site)
- West Dunbartonshire
On 30 January 2007 it was announced that the first regional casino would be built in East Manchester near the City of Manchester Stadium. This was regarded as a shock to the Blackpool and The O2 (formerly the Millennium Dome) bids, both of whom were regarded as the favourites. However, the Blackpool bid organisers pledged to continue the work in getting government approval for a 'supercasino'.
The Casino Advisory Panel also recommend that the areas in which large casinos should be licensed are: Great Yarmouth; Kingston-upon-Hull; Leeds; Middlesbrough; Milton Keynes; Newham; Solihull and Southampton. Also small casinos should be licensed at: Bath and North East Somerset; Dumfries and Galloway; East Lindsey; Luton; Scarborough; Swansea; Torbay and Wolverhampton.
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6500859.stm Lords scupper super-casino plan
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7264143.stm Super-casino proposal is ditched
- BBC News, Manchester Wins Super-Casino Race, 30 January 2007