Possible U.K. gaming deregulation has U.S. companies eyeing firms

Jun 17, 2003 6:21 AM

The possibility that the United Kingdom may deregulate its restrictive gaming policies by sometime next year permitting a major expansion of casinos, has caught the attention of America’s leading gaming companies.

Recently, MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGG) acquired a minority interest in the English-based Metro Casinos Ltd., the operator of casinos in the city of Bristol.

Last week, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) announced it was talking with the Gala Group of Britain regarding developing a joint venture to build several casinos in the U.K.

Gala already is a major player in England’s gaming industry. It operates bingo halls in about 30 regional casinos. Should the two get together, said European sources, the joint venture would become one of the country’s largest casino operators.

However, it was indicated that nothing would happen until the government agreed to go forward with recommendations issued last year by a study commission that strongly suggested the country should open the doors to gaming expansion.