Sunday 25 September 2011

Promoters of super-casino vow to press ahead with €460m complex

PROMOTERS of the proposed super-casino in Tipperary have vowed to press ahead with their plans despite the Government yesterday ruling out legislation allowing so-called large resort-style casinos.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter appeared to blow proposals for such casinos out of the water as he said the social impact of them was "likely to be negative" and that the Government "could not ignore" concerns about their viability.

The people behind the Tipperary Venue, which secured planning permission for a €460 million hotel and casino development on an 800-acre site in Co Tipperary, said they intend to engage with the Department of Justice to clarify what type of casino will be allowed.

However, the planned 2,000-table casino included in the Tipperary Venue proposal is at odds with the likely maximum of 40 tables Mr Shatter spoke of yesterday.

The large-scale development has been backed politically by Independent TD for Tipperary North Michael Lowry, who said he was "disappointed" by the Government’s decision to refuse it, "particularly in the context of the announcements that we’ve had regarding job losses this year".

Asked if the announcement proved he had lost any influence in government circles, Mr Lowry replied: "That is a factual position. I brought it as far as I could and we made fantastic progress and this is a political decision by the two political parties in government, Fine Gael and Labour."

Businessman Richard Quirke, the main backer of the Tipperary Venue, will have to decide how to continue, Mr Lowry said.

"The casino is one element of an overall development. Richard Quirke’s stated position all the time has been that if the licence was granted, this development would proceed at the one time.

"What he has to now look at is the feasibility of putting in place the other elements of the development, without the casino or with a reduced-size casino."

In a statement, the Tipperary Venue said it "welcomes" the fact that Mr Shatter intends to start preparations for the "updating and modernisation" of gaming legislation.

"In the context of the Tipperary Venue it is our intention to engage with the Department to determine the definition and extent of ‘modest’ casinos," the statement read.

"We will make constructive submissions and arguments to ensure that the terms and scale of the license granted, will, when incorporated into the development, be viable."

In June, An Bord Pleanála went against the recommendation of its inspector by granting permission for much of Mr Quirke’s proposals for the site at Two-Mile Borris outside Thurles.

It gave the go-ahead for a 500-bed hotel/casino, golf course, turf and all-weather horseracing tracks, greyhound racing circuit, and a replica of the White House, while refusing permission for a 15,000-capacity indoor entertainment venue.

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