British Political climate halts gambling merger
By staff
Harrah's Entertainment Inc. has pulled out of a joint venture with U.K. bingo parlor operator Gala Group Ltd. because of recent moves in Britain's Parliament to limit the scope of regional casinos the venture expected to build.

The deal was to build eight to 10 small casinos across Britain with Gala in a deal announced June 2003. However the British future of Gambling is unclear at the moment with a draft of the gambling bill still working its way through both houses of Parliament, with analysts expecting the rules to be adopted by 2006.

Harrah's spokesman Gary Thompson said the bill, in its present form, will 'severely restrict anyone's ability to successfully develop regional casinos.' The smaller casinos would have been from 30,000 to 50,000 square feet.

Harrah's and Gala will continue in a 'strategic alliance' that would allow the companies to work together should any opportunities arise in the short term and leaves open the possibility of resurrecting the joint venture, Thompson said.

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