IT’S ALL or nothing for the casino firms who are set to find out whether they are still in the running to operate Southampton’s gambling mecca.

The seven applications to run the enormous gamblers’ paradise at three city locations will be considered this week, and only some of the bids will go through to a second and final phase of the bidding.

As previously reported, Southampton is the last of eight cities and towns granted a super-casino licence to choose which firm will run the facility.

The five bidders – Grosvenor, Kymeira Casino Ltd, Genting Casinos UK Ltd, Global Gaming Ventures and Aspers – will face licensing chiefs on Thursday for the first of two hearings.

The second hearing – at which the winner will be announced – will take place within the next ten months.

The preferred site for the new casino is at the heart of the proposed Royal Pier waterfront development, with all five firms submitting bids to site the casino there.

However, Global Gaming Ventures has also handed in a bid to place it at the Watermark WestQuay development, while Grosvenor has handed in an application for it to be at the Leisureworld complex in West Quay Road.

City council licensing committee chairman Matt Tucker said: “The purpose of the meeting is for the committee to carefully consider the applications on their individual merits to determine whether they go from expressions of interest to something a bit more firm and final.”

Super-casinos can have up to 150 slot machines and 30 blackjack and poker tables.

And although licences have been given out at seven other councils, only two – in London and Milton Keynes – have actually been built.

Civic chiefs have long thought of the super-casino as a potential centre-piece for the £450m Royal Pier development.

A planning application for the site, which would also boast a luxury hotel, a new marina and homes, restaurants and bars, is likely to be submitted later this year.