Casino licence verdict awaited

064035a   Facade  of the Opera House Casino, St Thomas Street, lit by purple lights  'in Casino Supp   3/10/06        pic AH
064035a Facade of the Opera House Casino, St Thomas Street, lit by purple lights 'in Casino Supp 3/10/06 pic AH

A COURT quarrel over Scarborough’s small casino licence concluded yesterday.

District Judge Richard Blake is expected to decide by early next month whether to uphold an appeal by Nikolas Shaw Limited, which owns the Opera House Casino.

The company appealed a decision of Scarborough Council’s licensing sub-committee to allow Apollo Leisure - the only other applicant for the licence - through to stage two of the bidding process.

If successful in obtaining the licence, Nikolas Shaw Limited have said they plan to build an extension to their casino, while Apollo Leisure have said they will build a new development in the North Bay.

Nikolas Shaw Limited claim that Scarborough Council officers broke regulations in the Gambling Act 2005 when they did not put 22 letters from residents opposing the North Bay development before the sub-committee, dismissing them as “irrelevant”.

Those residents who opposed the development were also not invited to make their feelings known in person, as Gerald Gouriet QC, representing Nikloas Shaw Limited, said they should have been by law.

He said yesterday at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court: “Representations were received and rejected. There is no power under the Act to reject representations when there is required to be a hearing, as there was here.

“We may not be here today if it had been made known that there were these 22 people in the background. The decision is infinitely regrettable.”

He also claimed that Apollo Leisure should not have been allowed two weeks to change their plans, after the council initially deemed them non-compliant, and that the revised plans had not been advertised in public.

“It is undoubtedly the case that the plans originally submitted misled,” Mr Gouriet said.

Philip Kovlin QC, representing the council, pointed out that the appeal had been brought by Nikolas Shaw Limited and not the people whose opinions had been excluded by the council.

He added that the council had acted properly when allowing Apollo Leisure to change its application.

If the Apollo application is thrown out, it would mean Nikolas Shaw Limited would automatically win the licence and there would be no stage two of the bidding process, when competitors are judged on the benefits they can offer to the local area.

Judge Blake said: “I am anxious to return a judgement as quickly as possible.”

He said he hoped to come to a decision by August 8, with the decision to be read in public in Scarborough two days later.