Ladbrokes Keen For Super Casino Contract
By Jon Young
It is expected that Ladbrokes will declare itself in the running to gain the licence to operate the UK’s first super-casino when it announces its 2006 results later this week.

Analysts predict that pre-tax profit for Ladbrokes in 2006 will be in the region of £235 million and £240 million. However, shares in the company could be propped up by any further developments in Ladbrokes’ expansion plans in Italy and Spain or by an update in its talks with the online gambling company

Ladbrokes is looking to develop the scope of its business and after last year’s acquisition of the Ladbrokes Casino and Sports Bar in Paddington, London, is eager to advance into the casino operator sector.

'One of the reasons Ladbrokes took full ownership of the Paddington casino earlier this year was to get operationally ready for the new licences,' said one source close to Ladbrokes.

Although the government has not yet outlined how the bidding process for the first super-casino licence will go, a number of companies have stated their interest.

Las Vegas Sands announced its interest earlier this month, essentially stating that the only new casino licence it will apply for will be that of the super-casino in Manchester.

'For Sands there is now only one choice, and that's Manchester,' said a Las Vegas Sands spokesman earlier this month.

Harrah’s Entertainment, the world’s largest casino operator, along with fellow Las Vegas-based operator MGM Mirage, are reported to also be planning to submit an application for the super-casino licence.

It is expected that the government will announce within the next couple of months the details of the application process for the super-casino licence, as well as that for the eight large and eight small casinos.

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