|by Earl Williams|
According to a story by Jill Treanor of the London newspaper, The Guardian, the long empty Millennium Dome and its surrounding land, on the south bank of the River Thames in Greenwich, could offer a 'Las Vegas-style casino' among other sports and entertainment attractions. Philip Anschutz, America's 16th richest man, is having plans drawn up and is engaged in talks with the British government about leasing the vacant superstructure and its environs. It is understood that Anschutz may take on as a partner an international gambling company which would offer the casinos.
The plan calls for the Dome to accommodate 20,000 people in a 'world class' sport and entertainment environment, in an area 'surrounded by 5,000 new homes and bars, restaurants and hotels', writes Jill Treanor. But the talks won't result in anything unless changes are made to the restrictions on gambling at the Dome, recommended last year by an independent review of uses of the Dome. The Anschutz group is thought to be aware of the negative stigma a casino might cause as Mr. Anschtz tries to attract a partner who would be acceptable to the British public, and to Greenwich Council, which has not yet granted planning permission.
The government has imposed a May deadline on reaching an agreement.
Mr Anschutz owns a key component of Meridian Delta Limited, the consortium interested in the plan and which itself owns Lend Lease, an Australian property developer, and another property company, Quintain. The two consortium companies plan to take a 999-year lease on the Dome, letting it to Anschutz.