Charles Russell highlights flaw in Gambling Bill

Charles Russell has called on the Government to amend its draft Gambling Bill after identifying a provision that could deter investment in lucrative new leisure and casino developments.

Published last month, the bill aims to encourage investment in new leisure schemes, including large casinos with a minimum live gaming area of 10,000sq ft. This could lead to developments similar to the $600m (£326.6m) Caesars Wembley facility being built by Caesars Entertainment in conjunction with property developer Quintain.

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and Mac-farlanes are advising Caesars, with Nabarro Nathanson assisting Quintain.

However, Charles Russell claims a provision in the bill requiring companies to hold “a right to occupy the premises” to which the application for a casino licence relates, could prevent organisations from completing such developments.

This is because, under current regulations, casino operators usually enter into an option, a conditional contract or an agreement for lease, to take effect only if they obtain the casino premises licence.
This enables them to avoid the financial risk of the casino licence not being granted. However, these arrangements also do not give operators “a right to occupy the premises”.

Charles Russell real estate associate Malcolm Dowden said: “The bill cannot work in practice unless a potential operator is willing to take an enormous gamble – first buy or lease the premises and only then find out whether a licence will be granted so the scheme can go ahead.”