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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: A public hearing opens in Britain today to decide who will run the UK's first Las Vegas-style super-casino. Controversial US billionaire Philip Anschutz is the frontrunner. From London, Stephen Beard reports.


STEPHEN BEARD: The British government is offering licenses for one super-casino with unlimited slot machine jackpots as well as 16 more restricted licenses.

The process is mired in controversy. Even before the hearings begin, Philip Anschutz looks set to win the super-casino.

Opposition spokesman Hugo Swire says the Government has unfairly favored the US businessman.

HUGO SWIRE: The Deputy Prime Minister, the second-most powerful political figure in the land, gave one of the potential bidders, Mr. Anschutz, access to him over seven times and hasn't afforded that same level of access to other potential bidders.

The government denies press reports that it secretly promised Anschutz the super casino license if he bought the Millennium Dome, an ill-fated structure built by the government which turned into a huge financial and political liability.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.