Newham council has won its battle to open a Las Vegas-style casino in Westfield Stratford City next to the Olympic Park in east London following the collapse of a legal challenge from rival bidders.
The council’s decision in March to award casino rights to Westfield and its gaming operating partner Aspers was due to be subject to an application for Judicial Review in the High Court yesterday.
But the two rival bidders for the casino licence – Apollo Genting and City & Eastern – withdrew their legal challenges before yesterday’s preliminary hearing in the High Court.
Apollo Genting and City & Eastern both claimed that they withdrew their respective applications “reluctantly” and solely as a result of the time and costs required to pursue a legal challenge through the Judicial Review process.
But a Newham Council spokesperson told Property Week: “The council’s decision-making process to award the casino premises licence to Aspers was robust and fair. We are pleased the claims have been withdrawn and see this as a vindication of our approach.”
Newham’s competition to grant a casino licence was based on the regeneration benefits it would bring to the borough. The rival bidders claimed that Westfield and Aspers would bring few benefits beyond the 400 jobs created in their shopping centre casino.
Apollo Genting, which is a joint venture between Apollo Resorts & Leisure and gaming operator Genting, had planned a casino as part of a 400,000 sq ft mixed-use complex with 2,000 full-time jobs at Silvertown Quays in Docklands.
An Apollo Genting spokesman told Property Week: “We maintain that our submission would have delivered the greatest benefits to Newham in terms of jobs, investment, training, education and kick-starting the brownfield site. However, the council decided that they wanted a quicker and smaller-benefit solution.”
He added: “We have other greater and clearer opportunities in our businesses that we wanted to focus on. And while that in no way suggests we didn’t think we had a good chance with the Judicial Review, these things take months and years to get through.”
City & Eastern was leading a consortium with plans for a casino within a £250m mixed-use regeneration project at Gallions Reach in Docklands. The proposal included 1,200 full-time jobs.
City & Eastern confirmed the withdrawal of its legal challenge in a statement issued yesterday. The group said: “The decision was made reluctantly, as we still firmly believe that Newham has wasted an opportunity for additional regeneration and income for the borough.”