Great Yarmouth large casino decision brought step closer

An all-day meeting at a Great Yarmouth hotel finished with a decision likely to determine the winner of the resort's large casino licence.

After weeks of interviews and assessments, the borough council's casino advisory panel met on Tuesday at the Star Hotel for a final points scoring session to determine which candidate – Pleasure Beach boss Albert Jones or Palace Casino owner Patrick Duffy – it will recommend.

The secret assessment of the panel, made up of Tory councillors Barry Coleman and Mark Thompson, Labour leader Trevor Wainwright and senior officers Jane Ratcliffe, Seb Duncan and Peter Warner, is likely to be a decisive factor in the decision of the council's licensing committee which will meet on April 27 to choose an operator.

It is understood the panel followed procedures adopted in Newham, in East London, which decided who should run its large casino last year.

When deciding the relative merits of Mr Jones's planned scheme, The Edge, next to the outer harbour and Mr Duffy's proposal, which would entail the expansion of his Church Plain casino, the panel is thought to have given weight to a range of criteria from the impact on regeneration and job creation to any negative effects on problem gambling or other local businesses.

Mr Duffy's trump card is that he could open the new-style casino – one of eight approved nationally – almost straightaway after reconfiguring his current casino and bingo premises. However, he is only promising to deliver other elements of a planned redevelopment of The Conge – including a major events arena – at a pace dictated by the economy.

Mr Jones is pledging to build a �30m complex with a six-storey hotel, car parking, bowling, multiplex cinema, restaurants and bars. He is considered a frontrunner by many people because of his scheme's job creation potential.

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stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk

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