Blackpool venue's switch to casino is on the cards

The design for the hotel planned for the Sands Venue building
The design for the hotel planned for the Sands Venue building

A plan to convert a popular Blackpool venue earmarked for redevelopment into a casino has been passed.

Businessman Peter Swann, who owns Scunthorpe Football Club, applied to Blackpool Council to change the use of the Sands Venue on Central Promenade.

The plans would see part of the stage area and auditorium which occupies the first and second floors being used as a gaming destination.

However, the plan still has a hurdle to overcome because Blackpool has only four casino licences, which are all currently in use.

The Sands Venue in the Palatine building is set to see huge changes in the coming years as permission has earlier this year been granted to build a five star 96 bedroom hotel on top of the site with three new floors.

Now the casino could be added to further increase its visitor appeal. The plans submitted to the council’s planning department in March stated that the casino would create 30 full time jobs and the venue would operate 24 hours.

Blackpool planning officers recommended the scheme to go ahead stating there were no material reasons to oppose it.

In the report they described the Palatine building as “a brutalist structure constructed in the 1970s.”

Councillors voted to pass the application at the June meeting of the committee.

The ground floor of the Sands has already seen a family-friendly US- themed restaurant installed on the Promenade side in 2015.

The Sands Wild West Diner opened that August on the site of a former deli restaurant and Lineker’s bar, in the week that the luxury hotel plans were unveiled.

When the scheme first emerged Mr Swann, whose wife Karin is from the Wilkinson stores family, said: “Our aim is to create a very special luxury hotel that will be a real boost to the town’s visitor economy and points the way ahead for the resort in terms of the standards it has to reach.”

The ground floor currently also houses two discount stores, while there is a disused nightclub area in the basement.

The venue had been approved for casino use in the past but it would need one of the four existing licences transferring for it to open as a gaming venue now.

The council bid for a super-casino licence under 2005 legislation, but the Government eventually vetoed Las Vegas-style hotel gambling in this country.

Grosvenor, which acquired the licence which became available when the Sam Tai Casino on Bloomfield Road closed in 2015, now currently has two licences.
It has a lease until 2030 for the Sandcastle building.

The latest casino to open in Blackpool was at Coral Island in 2012, which created 65 full and part-time jobs.

The final casino licence is held by the Genting on Queens Promenade.