The construction of Middlesbrough’s £25m ‘large’ casino licence is in doubt with Stockton-based Jomast Developments still not able to confirm when work would start or indeed whether the development was still going ahead.
The company which was awarded the licence in 2012 said ‘talks with the council are at an advanced stage.’
The company has not been able to confirm if a casino operator and two hotel chains who had expressed interest at the time are still involved.
The surprise award to Jomast Developments would see the large casino licence be the catalyst to the major new leisure and entertainment development proposed for the heart of the town centre. It planned to develop on the same site where casino operator Aspers had planned a similar development with a four star hotel forming part of its casino plan but construction work has yet to start.
Jomast Developments beat off two applicants for stage one of the process were Apollo Resorts, who wanted to build a large casino at Riverside One, a flagship waterfront development, and Aspers who wanted to develop the licence at Jomast’s chosen site; Gurney House in the city centre.
The Middlesbrough licence is only one of eight such large casino licences in the UK and the only one north of Leeds. If Aspers had won the Middlesbrough licence it would have scooped half the licences awarded so far, and possibly risked anti-competition claims from rival operators.
Councillor Charlie Rooney, Executive Member for Regeneration at Middlesbrough Council, said at the time of the award: “The Council’s Licensing Committee resolved to grant Gurney Casino with a Provisional Statement which it can apply to convert into a large casino licence in due course. The potential for a scheme like this for the town on the back of the casino license is obviously very exciting and bringing Gurney House back into use after so many years of being empty would be a real achievement. This is a further boost for the town centre alongside recent proposals for the western gateway and new developments on Albert Road.”
Middlesbrough is located at the centre of the Tees Valley conurbation, which has a population of around 657,000 centred on the River Tees and access to over 6m people within a one hour drive.