Latest on Yarmouth casino plans

The race to bring Monte Carlo-style gambling to Yarmouth is set to hot up early in the New Year when the borough council picks up negotiations with four consortia interested in building a large casino and leisure complex at the centre of the resort’s Golden Mile.

After the town was awarded one of eight large casino licences earlier this year, Pleasure Beach boss Albert Jones was the first to publicly pursue his interest by submitting plans for a striking GBP 35m casino complex next to the outer harbour, the scheme now having reached the government regional office Go East for consideration.

Patrick Duffy, who runs the town’s existing Palace Casino, was next to lay down his cards by openly declaring his intention to submit plans for his own £35m scheme – containing similar leisure components to Mr Jones‘ with a hotel, multiplex cinema, ten-pin bowling, bars and restaurants – around The Conge and North Quay.

However, the developers focusing their interest on a council-owned Golden Mile site, running from but not including Pirates Cove adventure golf in the north to the Sea Life Gardens in the south, have yet to show their hand, confident in the knowledge that it will be at least a year before the council can determine its licensing procedures and finally invite applications for the licence.

Tim Howard, the council’s head of regeneration, said since the Golden Mile site had been marketed worldwide three years ago there had been about 60 inquiries from developers, but that had been whittled down to four schemes, all casino based.

“Some of the developers decided to pursue other investments and we decided others were not right for this type of project,” he said.

Mr Howard said the four schemes remaining – some of which were potentially bigger than Mr Duffy’s or Mr Jones‘ – were all likely to include a hotel and ancillary leisure facilities alongside the casino.

He said: “We will be communicating with the developers to keep them abreast of what we are doing with the casino licensing process.”

Cabinet member for regeneration Graham Plant said when the time came to choose a scheme, the council would be looking for “something sustainable to provide all-year-round employment”.