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Milton Keynes first in the queue to get new gambling venue, Aspers Casino 11/04/2012
Richard Whitehouse
Milton Keynes first of the eight places given the right to build a large licence casino by the Gambling Act 2005 to award license - Aspers to donate £500,000 to the council

After six years of hard work involving planning, meetings and negotiations, Milton Keynes Council has announced the successful applicant in the bid for a large casino in the city at the Xscape leisure facility.

The council’s Licensing sub-committee resolved on Thursday that it was granting a Provisional Statement to Aspers – an established casino operator. The award of the statement will enable them to apply for a large casino licence in due course.

The £10 million pound investment in the city will take place within the existing Xscape complex in Central Milton Keynes and provide not only gaming tables and machines but also bars, dining and entertainment offers.

The winning bid was judged to provide the best all round package to Milton Keynes. It will provide not only a new completely different – yet responsibly managed - kind of leisure facility for Milton Keynes, but numerous associated facilities and benefits for the local community, as well as creating scores of jobs.

A substantial annual donation of at least £500,000 for the life of the casino will be made to the council annually in order to support local communities with new initiatives. The council will become a stakeholder in the financial success of the venture.

Aspers have indicated that they are committed to being a key player in the Milton Keynes community and already have plans in place to fulfil this promise.

Other benefits to the city will be in the form of retraining or ‘up-skilling’ opportunities, through Milton Keynes Job Centre Plus and Milton Keynes College. Jobs will be created during the construction phase of the casino and after it is built.

This outcome has been the result of two years’ work by a small team of council officers and advisors who enabled all three applicants to carefully construct their final bids.

Councillors were provided with the outcomes of the negotiations under nine different headings, and they had to make the final decision to ensure a quality product will be delivered by the winner.

Due to Milton Keynes’s location in the South East Midlands there are more than eight million people living within a one hour drive, so the Borough is considered a prime location by the casino sector. This resulted in very competitive bids for this commercial opportunity.

Milton Keynes was one of eight places in the UK given the right to build a large licence casino by the Gambling Act 2005 and is the first designated area to find an operator ready to take on the challenge. Aspers has a distinguished track record in the development of popular and successful leisure, entertainment and gaming complexes. The emphasis is on entertainment (food, drink, music, excitement) not just gaming. Aspers currently has some 1200 employees in the UK and owns and operates casinos in Westfield Stratford City, Newcastle, Northampton and Swansea.

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