United apply to take a gamble

Manchester United are applying to the British government for a licence to build a casino on land close to Old Trafford.

Manchester United are applying to the British government for a licence to build a casino on land close to Old Trafford.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has already been forced to massively scale down plans to allow a number of casinos to be built throughout the United Kingdom, initially due to the scale of opposition to her proposals, then in an effort to squeeze legislation through before last week’s general election.

It is widely assumed Blackpool will be handed the one licence currently on offer, with other other hopeful areas left to wait and see whether Jowell attempts to revisit her original plans during the new session of Parliament.

Manchester City have previously outlined their own plans for a casino at Eastlands but now United are putting forward a forceful case, citing a massive regeneration of Salford Quays as the worthiness of their argument.

Together with leading hotel, entertainment and gaming company Las Vegas Sands Corp, United hope to build a luxury five-star hotel, restaurants, health club, sports bar and a regional casino on the Trafford Park side of the ground.

Coupled with the successful Lowry Centre and Imperial War Museum North, the plans will create the largest cultural village outside central London and would also include a new Metrolink station, improved bus routes and additional parking spaces on the site.

Should their plans meet with approval, it is hoped the Red Devils could regenerate a wider area around the stadium, raising the potential for more recreation and entertainment-based businesses for use by the local community.

“The club are delighted to be part of this exciting project, working with such a leading organisation as Las Vegas Sands and with Trafford Council,” said United commercial director Andy Anson.

“If selected, it will provide first class entertainment and accommodation on one of the most famous sporting sites in the world and create jobs and generate income for the local economy.

“There is a lot of work still to be done and any plans will of course consider the social issues associated with gambling and we will take expert advice on putting an agreed plan in place to deal with those matters comprehensively.”

Trafford Council’s executive has agreed in principle to support the joint proposal from Manchester United plc and Las Vegas Sands and has made an initial bid for a licence for a regional-scale casino in Trafford.

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