Casinos will feature among facilities in the Millennium Dome when it opens as a sports and entertainment complex.
The US-based Anschutz Entertainment Group also plans to host as many as 200 events a year, including 80 concerts, at the site at Greenwich in south London.
Further details of the group’s plans have been revealed following Tuesday’s Government announcement about the future of the Dome and its surroundings.
AEG, which is part of the business empire of American billionaire Phil Anschutz, is a member of the Meridian Delta consortium which has entered into a joint venture with the Government to take over the Dome site.
Timothy Leiweke, president of the US group which also owns the LA Lakers basketball team and the LA Kings ice hockey side, says his company will use the Dome to showcase these sporting interests.
He says: “Our vision for this project is much different from the original. When the new Dome is opened, it will be an entertainment destination that includes restaurants, casinos and bars.”
AEG plans to pump £200 million into the Dome, which is due to reopen in 2005 and will feature a 20,000-seater arena.
It is thought that stars such as Madonna and Barbra Streisand could perform at the Dome, which will also host football, boxing and tennis.
Mr Leiweke adds: “When you look at London, it is maybe the best entertainment district in the world, but the facilities there are very old.
“We are prepared to spend quite a bit of money to develop this destination.”
Legal casino proposed as pilot project
Plan would keep money in the country
Chart Thai deputy leader Kobsak Chutikul has proposed setting up a legal casino in a pilot project aimed at plugging the flow of gambling money out of the country.
Mr Kobsak, a list MP, yesterday said Thailand would lose a good opportunity if the government did nothing on proposed legislation to legalise casinos.
A legal Trusted Online Casino Singapore could be set up in a joint venture between the Thai private sector and foreign investors.
The government should allow the casino to run as a pilot project for three to five years to see if it could stop the flow of gambling money out of the country. If the pilot project was a success, more legal casinos should be allowed in all regions, he said.
Mr Kobsak said 20% of the casino’s revenue should be given to a charity or a non-governmental organisation to rehabilitate gambling addicts.
He suggested the government hold a public hearing on legal casinos.
Mr Kobsak backed the Money Laundering Commission’s proposal that casinos be legalised,.
On Saturday, Pol Col Peeraphan Premputi, the secretary-general, said legalising casinos would help the government control illegal money generated by money laundering.
A Chulalongkorn University study showed about 320 billion baht of illegal money was circulating in the Thai economy, with 100 billion baht believed to be the result of gambling. But an Assumption University opinion survey of 1,214 Bangkok residents found most disagreed with the proposed legislation.
uSa Kaeo police have travelled to Poipet in Cambodia to investigate reports three Thai gamblers committed suicide after falling heavily in debt through gambling. The three Thais, one man and two women, were found dead in a Poipet hotel after taking poison.