|The proposed deregulation of British gambling laws is attracting big business to the country’s capital as MGM Mirage announce their plans to launch a casino in the heart of London.|
Based in the Victorian grandeur of London’s famous Olympia Exhibition Centre, the company envisage a casino and entertainment complex unlike no other in the UK.
'We are committed to the UK and anticipate spending a substantial amount of money in that market if the business conditions are what we hope they will be,' MGM Mirage Chief Financial Officer James Murren said. 'It's a very prominent early step' in the company's UK development plans, though 'it's certainly not our last step,' he said.
The joint venture with the British Earls Court and Olympia Group would give MGM a stake of 82% in the project and would call for an initial investment of £150 million (about $254 million). It will be dependent on the implementation of the proposed reforms, which probably will not become reality until 2005 or 2006.
Lehman Brothers analyst Joyce Minor wrote in a research note to investors that the Casino would constitute 'considerable gaming space in London's tight quarters and could be a valuable cross-marketing opportunity and hedge to MGM's table play exposure in Las Vegas given the size of London's high-roller market (an estimated $255 million to $270 million) vs. Las Vegas (an estimated $300 million to $400 million),'
The move comes hot on the heels of other companies expressing an interest in the UK market, including Harrah’s and Isle of Capri Casinos.