Under the Gambling Act 2005, local authorities acting in their capacity as licensing authorities will be responsible for issuing the one regional, eight large and eight small new casino licences permitted by the Act. Licensing authorities will be required to run the competitions for these licences in a fair and open way. These competitions are not expected to begin until mid-2007, and the identities of the bidding companies will not be known until then.
There were no ministerial meetings with casino operators. There was one meeting with officials: Mr Brian Lemon of the Casino Operators Association of the UK attended a Stakeholder Workshop in London on 13 October 2005 which discussed a draft paper on Need and Impact Assessment, which will be a guidance note to accompany Planning Policy Statement 6: Planning for Town Centres.
There have been two meetings of planning Ministers and casino operators:
6 May 2004—My right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Keith Hill), former Minister for Housing and Planning, met Lloyd Nathan, European Managing Director of MGM, with officials to discuss planning policy for casinos generally.
28 November 2004—My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister visited the Star City Casino, Sydney for which I refer the hon. Member to the Deputy Prime Minister's answer of 19 July 2006, Official Report, column 301.
In relation to meetings with associates of casino operators, there have been a number of meetings with representatives of Anschutz in connection with the Dome. Those involving the Deputy Prime Minister were set out in the letter appended to the Memorandum to the Committee of Standards. My right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham was also present at a meeting between the Deputy Prime Minister and officials and representatives of Anshutz in June 2003. In addition, my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty) and officials met representatives of Anshutz in January 2003. But none of these Ministers were planning Ministers for the Dome and related developments.