updated 10/12/2004 11:30:01 AM ET 2004-10-12T15:30:01

Looking to gain a foothold in the potentially lucrative British gambling market, Caesars Entertainment Inc. is planning to build a Las Vegas-style hotel-casino near a famous sports venue in London.

The $600 million resort will consist of 400 rooms and be built on 13 acres next to the redeveloped Wembley National Stadium and Wembley Arena. The property will be named Caesars Wembley.

Caesars announced late Monday it is teaming up with Quintain Estates and Development PLC, a property investment and development company in Britain. Each company will own 50 percent of the planned casino joint venture.

The plan to bring a casino to Wembley is subject to the scheduled deregulation of gambling laws in Britain, that if approved would loosen restrictions, such as allowing more casinos and slot machines. That legislation is expected to be passed next year.

The London casino is the next stage in Quintain’s plans to revitalize Wembley, a northwest London neighborhood that is home to the famed soccer stadium and an arena used for concerts and boxing matches. The Wembley renewal project is being financed and developed by Quintain, and will surround the new National Stadium.

Caesars Entertainment president and chief executive Wallace Barr said the area will be a natural draw for tourists.

“Wembley promises to become one of Europe’s top new leisure destinations,” Barr said in a statement. “With that in mind, Wembley is a natural location for our first European casino project.”

Wembley has been mentioned as a site for World Cup soccer matches and as a key component of London’s bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

Caesars Wembley will have a spa and swimming pool, a collection of designer shops, convention and meeting facilities, along with restaurants, bars and lounges. The casino will boast 75,000 square feet of gambling space, with 135 gambling tables and 1,250 slot machines.

Marc Falcone, a Deutsche Bank gambling analyst in New York, said Tuesday there were several factors that could make the Caesars project a big success.

“The scope and favorable location makes for one of the more compelling projects announced in the UK,” he said. “Importantly, this joint venture allows the company to leverage the Caesars brand name, one of the most well recognized in gaming. We think this will be particularly important as gaming continues to expand globally.”

Since the British government said it would relax its gambling laws, the largest players in the industry have rushed to get their slice of the next big market.

MGM Mirage and Harrah’s Entertainment also have announced deals to build casinos in Britain, each looking to take advantage of a nation in which 72 percent of the population — some 33 million adults — gambled an estimated $65 billion in 2001.

Both Las Vegas companies are awaiting state and federal approval on planned high-profile mergers.

In June, MGM Mirage agreed to purchase Mandalay Resort Group for $4.8 billion in cash, $2.5 billion in debt and $600 million convertible debentures. Harrah’s proposed a $5.2 billion deal to acquire Caesars Entertainment in July.

Company executives believe regulators will OK the mergers.

Caesars Entertainment generates about $4.5 billion in annual revenue and owns 28 properties on four continents, employing 52,000 people. Caesars casino resorts operate under the Caesars, Bally’s, Flamingo, Grand Casinos, Hilton and Paris brand names.

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