Tuesday 22 March 2011

Treasury Holdings planning €300m Dublin supercasino

PROPOSALS FOR a €300 million supercasino on the banks of the river Liffey have been submitted by Treasury Holdings to the Department of Justice.

Treasury says its Spencer Dock site near Dublin port is an “ideal location” for the construction of a large-scale casino as part of a regeneration of the area.

It claims the development could attract three million visitors a year and create 2,200 new jobs in the Dublin region. The venture could boost spending in the local economy by €75 million a year and generate more than €40 million a year in gaming taxes.

Details of Treasury’s plans are contained in a submission to the department, which The Irish Times has obtained under freedom of information legislation. Treasury, whose loans are in Nama, filed the submission together with an international casino operator.

The name of this company has been withheld on the documents released on grounds of commercial sensitivity.

According to the submission, a large-scale casino, including hotel, convention and spa facilities, along with restaurants, pubs, nightclubs and a bowling alley, would be 50,000-75,000sq m in size and would cost between €250 million and €300 million.

Last December, former minister for justice Dermot Ahern, published proposals that would allow a single “resort” casino with multiple gaming tables and up to 1,500 slot machines. The new Government has yet to pronounce on the issue, but an application for a large-scale casino resort in Co Tipperary is the subject of a Bord Pleanála hearing.

Treasury’s submission is one of almost 70 made to the minister last year as part of a consultation process. Up to now, Mr Ahern’s department had refused to sanction the release of these submissions. It was drawn up before Treasury opened the national convention centre on the Spencer Dock site last September.

It says that for a large-scale casino to be financially viable, there must be sufficient demand. “This generally means locating the casino resort in or near population centres where it is easily accessible by local customers and tourists.”

The failure of the UK to legislate for larger regional casino resorts makes it likely any Irish venture would attract visitors from the UK and mainland Europe, Treasury argues. It says its international partners would give priority to local people in recruitment and would “seek out the economically inactive, minorities and young people, to the extent permissible under law”.

The submission claims the development would employ 1,750 people as well as creating 450 jobs in tourism. About 2,000 jobs in construction would be created over a 2½-year period.

The submission includes a section on “myths”, in which the promoters claim much research on gambling is biased. It rejects the contention that problem gambling will rise with the introduction of large-scale casinos.

Irish Times


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