A historic double-cross by Blackpool could halt Simon Rigby’s casino dreams.Advertisement
The multi-millionaire owner of Preston’s Guild Hall is preparing to apply for a Gaming Licence to allow a casino to open in the venue.
He splashed out on Fives in Guildhall Street where previous owner Edgar Wallace was building up to applying for a Gaming Licence.
He wants to convert the former Morrisons store within the Guild Hall Arcade to become a large casino.
Preston City Council is not currently a licenced area for a large casino.
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Mr Rigby said: “We think it would be right for Preston have a casino and the Guild Hall is a great place for it.
“The aim is to make this place a real entertainment complex and have all sorts of different activities on offer.
“Preston is a city and why shouldn’t it have a casino?”
But it’s the events of a decade ago which could stop Mr Rigby from being able to roll the dice.
Deputy leader of the city council councillor John Swindells said: “Simon’s biggest hurdle is the government. In 2007 the government awarded the super casino to Manchester. But also awarded towns and cities across the UK the licences for Large, medium and small casinos. Towns and cities across the country had to bid for these.
“Preston did not it backed Blackpool’s bid for the super casino. Preston does not hold a license so cannot grant a license to Simon. It would require a change of government legislation. A number of towns and cities who won licenses have not had them built so they are unused.
“The government could make these unused licenses portable but have not done so. If they were made portable Preston could bid for one but so might many others. Only if Preston won a license could Simon Rigby bid for one. There has been talk of the government making licenses portable for several years now but all the controversy about fixed odds betting terminals seems to have put this on the back burner. A casino for Preston has a long way to go, the first hurdle is a change to government legislation.”
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And Cllr Swindells reveals some political back-stabbing by Blackpool destroyed the North West’s chance of a licence.
He said: “Interestingly Preston agreed not to bid for a casino and Support Blackpool’s bid for a super casino in return Blackpool would not object to Tithebarn.
“The Tories took control of Blackpool council and almost immediately objected to Tithebarn. They did not get the casino.”
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