Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

January 30, 2007

Kerzner and/or Harrah's Working on UK Casinos?

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to David for this tip...

An interesting article on mega-casinos in the UK, this one in Manchester:

Also, this from the LV Business Press:

I know David has some insight into UK gaming law - hopefully he'll share in the comments.

Update: The LV Biz Press link may not be accurate/up to date.

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Read archived comments (3 so far)
January 30, 2007 4:06 PM Posted by Christian

If Hararah's is looking into UK, it wouldn't make sense for them to cut those corporate jobs so soon.

January 30, 2007 4:44 PM Posted by John

On a news upbate, on LV Business Press' site, they are saying that the British Gaming Oversight committe (I'm not sure what the actualy organization is called) has selected a site in Manchester, UK. Neither Blackpool or Grenwich, the two front runners, were selected.

However, that doens't really mean that Harrah's is out of the race. Apparently, they are showing interest in developing the Manchester site. So, who knows Harrahs could be planning on staying outside of Asia, and making a large splash in the budding British gaming sector. I say this, meaning a Las Vegas style gaming community, not the upscale gaming salon industry, which Harrah's is trying to make a splash into as well, with their purchase of London Clubs, Intl.

January 30, 2007 5:53 PM Posted by David F.

This is big news from a UK standpoint, you may or may not know that the highest number of foreign visitors to Las Vegas are from the UK (beating even Japan)

Of course there has been Casinos in the UK for a long time. but I will give you a rough overview for the uninitiated

Casinos in the UK have been controlled by the 1968 Gaming Act, this basically specified:-

� You Had to be a �Member� of the Casino to gamble
� 48 Hour �Waiting period� between Joining and being able to Gamble
� No Live Entertainment on site
� No Alcohol at the tables and none at all served after Midnight (although the Casino could stay open until 4am)
� Casinos were very restricted in advertising
� Casinos only permitted in certain cities where it could be proved there was a �Demand� those cities would license the casinos, which were typically small, with a handful of tables and slots.

There was several Casinos around the UK, these varied from Salon Prive type establishments that were as good as, or better than any High Limit room in Vegas (The Ritz Casino and Crockfords come immediately to mind) and even had �Joining fees� of up to $10000, (which I am sure high rollers would have waived). The story goes that Kerry Packer lost $16million at Crockfords sometime in the 90�s the largest ever gambling loss in the UK. Mostly though they at the other end, little more than legalized �Gambling dens� this is a good article which describes the UK experience for many:-

As Far as Games went, Roulette is the most popular by far, but you could get Blackjack or Baccarat as well (its called Punto Banco over there)

Now having said that, it did not mean there was No other Gambling in the UK, from 1960 sports betting was commonplace (mainly horses and greyhounds), as was Bingo everywhere (bars, clubs etc), as were low-limit slots in bars/clubs/restaurants (the law in the UK on slots is a very* messy one)

In late 90s the waiting period was reduced to 24 hours, and at some time the hours were extended from 2pm-6am, although it was 4am on Sundays as well as some relaxation on advertising.

In 2005, the waiting period was scrapped altogether, and The new regulations will basically bring the existing casinos in-line with modern day requirements to compete with on-line establishments (No longer can casinos only be in certain cities as specified in the law, 24 hour opening allowed, alcohol can be served anywhere, live entertainment etc. the plan is to have them fully implemented everywhere this year.

The other part was to allow Larger Casinos in three basic sizes1 of which would be a �Super-Casino� (read the Bloomberg article it breaks it down pretty well).

Initally the plan was to offer licenses for 40 �super Casinos� this was quickly reduced to 8 and now the present 1 with a �wait and see� on any more.

Several cities has bid for the right to be able to Have the Super Casino, Blackpool and London (Greenwich) was seen as the Front runners, especially Blackpool (very much the equivalent of Atlantic City in its Pre-Casino Days) as there was some Political Controversy around the London Bid (AEG Entertainment who were behind the London Bid, hosted a couple of prominent politicians leading to accusations of Favoritism), hence the premature announcement in the LV Business Press that Harrahs would be moving to Blackpool (FYI Harrahs already has a UK Presence, they bought London Clubs International, who already operate several small UK casinos in 2005)

A Commission was set up to pick the best site(s) for the new casinos and their recommendations were announced today, Manchester was the �winner� of the Super Casino License , the process is now that this will go to the UK Law makers, so technically they could choose another city but this is seen as very unlikely.

It is envisioned that it will open in 2009.

Commentary says the people behind the Manchester Bid worked very closely with Kerzel, so although they could choose someone else to build and operate it, it is likely it will be them.

What maybe (or maybe not) the biggest surprise is there has been no major debate on who the architects will be, but perhaps this isn�t a Big Issue to most as long as it looks good and the service is top notch, or maybe 99.99% of people are just not educated on the finer points, they probably don�t deserve to go to casino anyway��