Aspers faced opposition from Global Gaming Ventures, who took Southampton Council to court after it emerged that alternative blueprints had been drawn up for a casino to be built at the Hammerson shopping development. GGV, who are in the process of finalising plans to open a £19 million casino in Bath, stated that the redevelopment of Southampton’s Royal Pier hadn’t been granted planning permission when it was announced that a new casino would be opening on the site.
During the bidding process, casino operators were required to outline their business plans, including employment figures and the “Gross Value Added” to the area. GGV, the company behind the recently opened super casino in Leeds, took issue with the plans submitted by Aspers, indicating that their rivals had not put a figure to their Gross Value Added claim.
However, Justice Jeremy Baker deemed that GGV’s case had “no merit”, before stating that Southampton Council had been clear from the start about their intentions to allow a new casino to be built on the Royal Pier site. Justice Baker told the court: “Although I accept that GVA is usually expressed as a monetary value, I consider that, in the context of the broad evaluation exercise which it was required to carry out, the Advisory Panel was entitled to take the view that it was not required to make a mathematical calculation of the GVA of each of the applications. There is no evidence that such a fundamental amendment, as suggested by the claimant, would be countenanced, and that the wider development would go ahead as originally envisaged without the prior construction of the casino development.”
Aspers, who already operate casinos in Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Northampton and Stratford, will now continue with its project to open in both Bournemouth and Southampton, with a projected opening date of 2021 being rumoured for the latter. The company will also be forced to pay Southampton Council £100,000 for a large casino licence and a further £150,000 once the new development opens its doors to punters. In addition, Aspers have also committed to donate £50,000 per year to help combat gambling addiction in the area and a further two percent of gross gaming revenue towards supporting the local council.