The bidding battle to run Southampton’s super-casino will start within weeks.
Southampton City Council will launch the competition to run the gambling complex at Royal Pier on April 1.
The super-casino, which would be only the third of its kind in the country, is seen as a cornerstone of the £450million plans for the dilapidated site.
A planning application for the development is due to be submitted this year. The scheme could create more than 6,000 new jobs as well as 500 homes, a luxury hotel and rows of posh bars and restaurants.
As the Daily Echo revealed last month, gambling giant Aspers, which runs the UK’s only other super-casinos in London and Milton Keynes, has already confirmed it will bid to run the venue.
Labour council bosses say they believe there will be “significant interest” from firms wanting to run the casino.
Southampton is one of only eight places in the country with a licence to run a large casino, which can house up to 30 blackjack and poker tables and 150 slot machines with jackpots of up to £4,000.
The first stage of the competition will see interested parties submit bids. The council will then decide which applicants meet their criteria.
If there is more than one bidder, a second phase will begin in the autumn which will see expert advisors scrutinise each applicant before a final decision by the council’s licensing committee.
Council leader Simon Letts said: “This is the last of the eight licences available in the UK and I expect significant interest. The key to any award is the significant regeneration benefits that the development will bring and without these I doubt a licence would be granted.”