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Deputy Two Jags and the high roller

2006 REVIEW

THE GOVERNMENT is currently weighing up the odds on which bit of Britain is set to benefit from a Las Vegas-style super-casino development.

In May this year, a quango called the Casino Advisory Panel shortlisted seven areas for the regional super-casino and 29 towns and cities to compete for the large and small developments.

The odds on which area will build the regional development are firmly stacked up in favour of Greenwich. It is a hot favourite not only because of its location - it is proposed to be inside the former Millennium Dome - but also because of its high-profile backer, Philip Anschutz , a personal friend of John Prescott.

Indeed it was revealed earlier this year that building work had already started on the casino structure at the O 2 centre.

Further embarrassment came with the revelation that the Anschutz Entertainment Group had wrongly represented views of the Greenwich Peninsula Chaplinancy, a local faith organisation, saying it supported the plans.

But the Casino Advisory Panel is still preparing its advice for Government and is not set to submit these recommendations until January 30.

Even though Greenwich is a clear favourite, Blackpool has also been tipped as the winning city. The final decision will then rest with Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

The winner at the tables therefore will not be announced until February at the very earliest and until then the competitors in the race for Britain's first super-casino will just have to wait to hear who has won the jackpot.