LONDON (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The Anschutz Entertainment Group-owned Millennium Dome has won the first round of competition to run Britain’s sole super-casino, triggering renewed questions about John Prescott’s relationship with the Dome’s owner.
Officials insisted the decision was unrelated to the controversial meetings between the deputy prime minister and AEG chief Philip Anschutz.
“The two things are purely coincidental,” a spokesman for the panel told the Financial Times. “We have had absolutely no pressure from any ministers put on us whatsoever.”
The Conservatives argued that the “close relationship” between Prescott and Anschutz compromised the casino bidding process.
“Greenwich are in the unenviable position where if they are successful, their competitors will cry foul because of the unprecedented access to the government enjoyed by the Dome’s owners,” Huge Swire, shadow culture secretary, told the paper. “As a result of Mr. Prescott’s actions, the government risks being mired in legal challenges for years to come.”
The rankings released this week for the eight potential venues for the super-casino give each site scores out of a possible 80. Greenwich’s Millennium Dome, with a total of 67 points, ranked just ahead of Glasgow and Blackpool. The locations were ranked on eight criteria including social impact, need for regeneration and probability of implementation.
The panel said the scores reflected the “initial sifting” process, and might not prove predicative of which site won the overall competition. It said it was on track to make its final recommendation for the super-casino venue to Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, by the end of the year. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers