The Millennium Dome is the frontrunner to house the UK’s only ‘supercasino’ following the first round of the competition.

The Casino Advisory Panel has published the rankings from its initial selection for the sole regional supercasino, as well as the eight small and large casinos.

The shortlist of eight for the supercasino ranks the Greenwich site with the highest score, followed by Glasgow, Blackpool, Sheffield, Brent (Wembley), Newcastle, Cardiff and Manchester.

There will now be a second round of submissions before the final selection.

The differences between the scores at this stage are narrow: out of a top mark of 80, the Dome scored 67 while Glasgow and Blackpool scored 66 and 65 respectively.

The scores are collated on issues such as social impact, needs for regeneration, willingness to licence, probability of implementation, regional context, community benefits, unique characteristics and ensuring an adequate range of areas.

The emergence of the Millennium Dome as frontunner has sparked further speculation about the relationship between its owner, Anschutz Entertainment Group, and deputy prime minister John Prescott.

There are fears among critics of the process that competitors to the Dome’s bid will claim an unfair process if the Dome is successful.

A spokesman for the advisory panel said the scorings helped determine the decision for the shortlist and all applicants have been given until 14 August to make further submissions, and therefore the scores are purely ‘initial'.

Speaking at his weekly press conference today, mayor of London Ken Livingstone welcomed the initial findings. He added: ‘I am particularly pleased that the panel has clearly looked beyond the recent controversy surrounding the Greenwich proposal based on the Dome, and has clearly weighed the merits of what is proposed there.’