Time to show hand over casino licence, says Mount Murray

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DIRECTORS of Mount Murray Hotel and Golf Club, in Santon, have under a year to break the deadlock with the Department of Economic Development over its plans for a second casino before its planning approval expires.

In October 2009 planning approval was granted at the site to extend and upgrade the hotel, with the condition that the casino element was started first.

The approval was valid for four years.

Developer Albert Gubay was one of seven parties that submitted an expression of interest for a second casino licence at the DED’s invitation last year.

He ended up as the last remaining applicant, and negotiations have been on-going since.

One of the directors, Brian Stowell, said: ‘Government seem to want us to build the complex and announce who will be the operator before they grant us a licence.

‘We, on the other hand, would like a commitment that a licence will be granted once the complex is built if we can fulfil all the government’s conditions.’

He added: ‘The directors appreciate a legal process must be followed, however they do not comprehend why an agreement that lays out a pathway to a licence – by that I mean an agreement stating that if the company do X, Y, Z, then a licence will be issued – cannot be agreed.

‘The directors will never sanction the spending of vast sums of money without some sort of guarantee that a licence can be achieved once all the requirements and conditions are met.’

Mr Stowell said the extended complex, featuring five-star accommodation, would address the identified problem that ‘a number of high net worth individuals are being dissuaded from visiting our island due to the lack of facilities’.

And he said it would also bring much-needed revenue and work to the building industry, with about 70 full-time positions also being created to run the extended complex.

Palace Hotel and Casino owner the Sefton Group has previously warned there was no realistic prospect of two casinos operating profitably. Mr Stowell dismissed the concern, saying that Mount Murray was ‘targeting a completely different market and clientele on island’.

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