The race to turn Yarmouth into a Monte Carlo-style gambling capital will be stepped up later this week with the opening of a multi-million- pound casino predicted to attract up to 75,000 visitors a year.
When Palace Casino opens on Thursday next to the existing Palace Bingo, it will take the investment of Gorleston-based entrepreneur Patrick Duffy in the town’s old Tesco site to more than GBP 9m in five years and create a further 70 jobs on top of the 35 already at the Church Plain complex.
And even before the doors open the ebullient Irishman – who launched his GBP 25m business empire 12 years ago with a bingo club in Gorleston High Street – has declared himself firmly in the running for the town’s large casino licence if the government approves the new-style gambling premises.
Far from being daunted by competition for the licence from Pleasure Beach boss Albert Jones, whose consortium has already unveiled plans for a GBP 35m casino and leisure complex called The Edge, and a variety of developers looking to transform a large swathe of the Golden Mile, Mr Duffy insisted: „I have already shown I can deliver, investing nearly £1m in the town for every year I have been in business.“
He said to meet the space criteria for a large casino he would simply have to knock down two walls between the present bingo and casino clubs.
And as a demonstration of his serious intent, he has already drawn up plans for his own GBP 35m leisure development as part of a future bid.
In a complex that would spread from the casino along The Conge to North Quay, he is proposing to transform the rundown area with a 75-bedroom hotel with five five-star suites, a conference centre, shops and leisure facilities including a multiplex cinema and ten-pin bowling.
He said the scheme was not dependent on any consortium and could proceed even if the government turned its back on large casinos. „I have already built the casino,“ he stressed.