U.K. approves Isle license

Oct 28, 2003 4:09 AM

In anticipation of regulatory changes in the way gaming is conducted in England, Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. (ISLE) has arranged to acquire a two-third interest in the Blue Chip Casinos Plc. for $8 million.

Approval of the acquisition has been granted by the Gaming Board of Great Britain, making the Isle of Capri the first American company to be officially sanctioned in the U.K.

The acquisition is expected to be consummated by the end of the calendar year.

Blue Chip is acquiring the Castle Casino located in Dudley, England, near Birmingham and has received approval to operate two other casinos in the vicinity.

"Through our ownership of the Blue Chip," said Tim Hinkley, company president and CEO, "we believe we gain an advantage ”” giving us valuable experience prior to enactment of the proposed UK gaming reforms. This is the company’s first step in our U.K. strategy, applying our proven business model of being first in regional markets with a highly branded product. We look forward to introducing ”˜Isle Style’ gaming to the United Kingdom."

In a related development, Isle of Capri has signed an agreement to own and operate a 100,000 square foot entertainment complex, including an Isle of Capri Casino, in Coventry, England adjacent to the city’s planned football arena. The project is subject to receive regulatory approval.

Changes in the way gaming is conducted in England is not expected to be approved until 2004 and possibly 2005.