The first regional casino or ‘super casino’ in the UK will be constructed in
East Manchester at Sportcity. This site is near the City of Manchester Stadium – built
for the Commonwealth Games – in Beswick, a poor area of east
This was made possible by the The Gambling Act 2005 that revised many
regulations relating to gambling in the UK and made provision for a number of
‘destination resort casinos’ in the style of Las Vegas. The siting of the first
Super Casino has been the subject of much controversy and competition in the UK
since early 2006.
Originally eight regional casinos were proposed but concerns in the national
media and by social and religious groups meant that only one casino of the
largest size was permitted along with a further eight large and eight small
casinos of a smaller size and with reduced jackpot limits.
The ‘super casino’ will have a minimum customer area of 5,000m² and at
most 1,250 unlimited-jackpot slot machines. Large casinos will have a minimum
area of 1,000m² and up to 150 slot machines with a maximum jackpot of
£4,000. The small casinos will have a minimum customer area of
750m², up to 80 slot machines and a jackpot of £4,000.
In May 2006, a shortlist of seven sites, selected from various ones
submitted by local councils, was announced for the location of the regional
casino. These were: The O2, Greenwich, London (ex-Millennium Dome), Cardiff,
Blackpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, and Glasgow.
The O2 site, which was a hot favourite, was involved in controversy after it
was discovered that John Prescott (the UK Deputy Prime Minister) had stayed at
the ranch of Philip Anschutz, whose Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) is
involved in the redevelopment of the dome site as a sporting and entertainment
venue. In August 2006 it was reported that construction on the O2 site had
already started, despite the site of the casino being reportedly stated by the
government to still be in the consultation phase.
SUPER CASINO ANNOUNCEMENT
At the end of January 2007 it was announced by the Casino Advisory Panel
(CAP) that the first Regional Casino would be built in East Manchester near the
City of Manchester Stadium (Manchester was a 16-1 outsider). This was a shock
to the Blackpool and The O2 bids, both of whom were regarded as the
The Blackpool bid organisers pledged to continue the work in getting
government approval for a super casino. Professor Crow, chairman of the CAP,
has said that the panel’s decision is ‘watertight’ if it came to a legal
challenge from any losing bidder. The Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, has
already announced that there are no further plans to approve more super casinos
in the 2007 parliamentary session.
The CAP also recommended that the areas for large casinos should be Great
Yarmouth, Kingston-upon-Hull, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Newham,
Solihull and Southampton. Also small casinos should be in Bath and North East
Somerset, Dumfries and Galloway, East Lindsey, Luton, Scarborough, Swansea,
Torbay and Wolverhampton.
Manchester City Council and New East Manchester will now develop the first
Regional Casino at Sportcity in Manchester. The casino will generate an
estimated 2,700 direct and indirect jobs in one of the most deprived parts of
Councillor Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “We knew
we had a very strong case. It remains our view that piloting casinos in a
variety of locations across the country offers the best possible test of social
impact and regeneration benefits.
“However, if there is to be one pilot regional
casino scheme it must be in Manchester. We believe the proposed site at
Sportcity in east Manchester offers a robust test bed for the successful
implementation of an, as yet, untested concept in the UK.”
Tom Russell, chief executive of New East Manchester Ltd, said: “Sportcity in
east Manchester is an ideal destination for a regional casino. Not only is
Manchester a major European city but it has a diverse city region on our
The potential benefits of this scheme to East Manchester and the City are
much greater than any other possible type of development on the Sportcity site
whether measured in terms of new leisure facilities or jobs. Bringing a
£265m development and 2,700 direct and indirect jobs to East Manchester
will benefit the whole of the Northwest region.”
The proposed regional casino site will also contain an entertainment complex
with a range of facilities such as a multipurpose arena, a swimming pool, an
urban sports venue, restaurants, bars, a nightclub and a hotel. The licence
will allow Manchester to build a venue for up to 1,250 unlimited-jackpot gaming
machines. Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has said MPs will be given the final
say – via a Commons vote – on the proposals.
PLANNING AND CONSTRUCTION
Manchester City Council and East Manchester Ltd are playing their cards
close to their chest. The design for the new casino has not yet been finalised
and no construction bids will be put into place until at least the end of 2007
when further announcements will be made.
Sheppard Robson has already thrown its hat into the ring in the battle to
design Manchester’s new Super Casino. The architect Ian Simpson may also submit
a design if allowed. Improved transport links to the complex are already under
way, including the Phase III extension of the Manchester Metrolink tram east to
Droylsden, which received £520m of funding from the government in July
In February 2008, the UK Government annount the cancellation of the Manchester Super Casino project. Smaller regional casinos will be created instead and a new regeneration plan will be created for the east of Manchester.