THE COURT battle over Scarborough’s small casino licence is expected to be resolved within days.
District Judge Richard Blake will rule on Monday whether to uphold an appeal by Opera House Casino owner Nikolas Shaw Ltd against Scarborough Council’s decision to allow their sole competitor for the licence - Apollo Leisure - through to the second and final stage of the bidding process.
Judge Blake has said his decision will have “enormous consequences” for Scarborough residents, as well as for local businesses and the council.
Nikolas Shaw Ltd appealed the decision of the council’s licensing sub-committee on the grounds that representations from members of the public who opposed the Apollo proposal were dismissed as “irrelevant” by council officers and were not put before the committee.
The committee also allowed Apollo two weeks to alter their plans at stage one of the application process, which Nikolas Shaw Ltd claim should not have been permitted under the Gambling Act 2005.
The proposed Apollo development, which the company say they will build in North Bay near the Open Air Theatre, was changed from a multi-storey building with a casino on the top floor, to a two-storey development with the casino on the ground floor.
Judge Blake could dismiss Apollo from the process, which would effectively hand the licence to Nikolas Shaw Ltd, which plans to expand the Opera House Casino.
He could also dismiss the appeal from Nikolas Shaw Ltd, which would allow the council to begin stage two of the application process.
Alternatively, he could send the process back to an earlier stage when both parties could resubmit plans.
The right to host a small casino was won by Scarborough in 2007. The licence would allow the operator to run a casino containing up to 80 gaming machines and 40 gaming tables.
Ahead of the ruling, Opera House Casino owners Nikolas and Becky Shaw said: “Whatever the outcome we look forward to the challenge that lays ahead of us; be it continuing to battle Apollo for the licence, seeing them forced to return to the beginning of the process, or even ejected from the process at stage one and continuing ourselves to develop the Opera House Casino.”
The Shaws added that they do not believe Scarborough is large enough for a new casino of the size the small casino licence would allow.
“In a town the size of Scarborough it is just not financially viable, as was proved when no other operator applied for the small licence,” they said.
“We have tried on numerous occasions to explain this to the council, going right back to 2006 when they first applied to the Government for the new licence.”
A spokesperson for Scarborough Council said the local authority did not wish to comment until they knew the outcome of the appeal.
During the two-day appeal hearing, which was held last month, the council claimed that the public would lose out if Apollo were thrown out of the bidding process, as in stage two, applicants are judged on benefits they can offer to the area.
They also said there had been nothing improper in allowing Apollo to change their plans.
Judge Blake’s ruling should be read in public at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.