WHEN the independent Casino Advisory Panel drew up its provisional order of suitability of the locations under consideration for Britain's first supercasino it placed the Greenwich Dome and Blackpool in first and second place and put Manchester last of the eight contenders. Whatever can have happened since that assessment was made last year to make Manchester the winner yesterday? Until the announcement was made all attention was focused on Greenwich and Blackpool with the latter the favourite for a number of reasons. Credit should be given to the Panel and and to the Department of Culture for keeping their secret safe until a time of their choosing, something that is seldom achieved in these times when the government leaks like a colander. Being wise after the event it is possible to see that Manchester had some strong claims. It held the very successful 2002 Commonwealth Games and it proved its ability to get things done when its city centre was quickly rebuilt after an IRA bomb demolished part of it in 1996. From a political point of view, if London was not going to get the nod for Greenwich, there was good sense in going for Manchester with a catchment area of ten million people. There has been talk of legal challenges being made by some of the losing contenders if Greenwich had been chosen because of allegations of improper lobbying by the Dome's American owners. But the losers would now be well advised to accept Manchester's win.


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