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Rod Smith

MGM, Sands Deny Links to Liverpool

16 March 2004

MGM Mirage and Las Vegas Sands officials Monday denied reports that they are in talks with the British city of Liverpool about developing a hotel-casino there.

MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said Monday his company is certainly looking at opportunities throughout England, but he is aware of no conversations specific to Liverpool that have taken place or are planned.

Ron Reese, spokesman for The Venetian, which is owned by Las Vegas Sands, also said his company has had no conversations with the city about any casino projects.

The Daily Post in Britain reported the two companies were holding discussions about developing a Liverpool casino complex, including a luxury hotel with leisure and conference facilities.

Industry sources, however, agreed there may be conversations taking place shortly, given gaming companies' interest in the British casino market.

Other sources confirmed that the Las Vegas Sands has had conversations with so-called football clubs in the United Kingdom about casino developments, but nothing on the scale of what was reported Sunday by the London Telegraph, Reese said.

The Telegraph reported Venetian owner Sheldon Adelson was in talks with several British football clubs to develop a multibillion-dollar chain of "entertainment centers" at on the football clubs' property.

"With the proposed changes in gaming laws in the U.K., Las Vegas Sands is excited to be looking at potential opportunities, but we won't be building Venetians all across England," he said.

"Our interest is not exclusive to football clubs. There are a variety of avenues worth exploring to enter the U.K. market and we will look closely at each and every opportunity that presents itself," Reese said.

Feldman said there was no secret MGM Mirage has great interest in the English gaming market.

But he said there are a number of other previously announced projects in the United Kingdom that MGM Mirage has been discussing.

Early this year, MGM Mirage announced a $490 million deal to buy Wembley Plc, a distressed British-owned gaming operator, in a deal that positions MGM Mirage to take advantage of the expected relaxation of United Kingdom gaming rules and capture racino revenue from the company's Rhode Island dog track.

MGM Mirage also announced a deal in May to buy a 25 percent share in Metro Casinos Ltd., which is building a casino in Bristol.

The two companies also agreed to work together to develop additional Bristol casinos as well as a possible expansion of the Westcliff Casino on England's southern coast.

MGM, Sands Deny Links to Liverpool is republished from