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Howard Wright On Monday: Vegas-style Star City Casino puts shine on Stanley empire.

Byline: Howard Wright

LEONARD STEINBERG, founding father of Stanley Leisure, seems set on bowing out as chairman with a smile on his face. The attractions of his new Star City Casino on the edge of Birmingham should see to that.

Now the grand old man of betting and gaming, he will soon step down, after steering the company from humble beginnings in Liverpool in 1958 to a unique position in the UK casino industry.

Betting might keep the Stanley tills ticking over, but Star City will put the shine on the company's business.

Billed as the UK's biggest casino and built at a cost of pounds 10 million, the 70,000 sq ft entertainment emporium is preparing to welcome cast members from Eastenders and Coronation Street to the grand public opening this Saturday.

They will find themselves taking a peek into the future of UK gaming, which Stanley have brought to the present, through the means of an integrated entertainment complex that will be replicated half a dozen times over, once the Gambling Bill has opened up the doors.

Star City's 10,000 sq ft of table gaming area - twice the minimum requirement under deregulation - makes it the largest in the UK, but that's not all.

There are four floors catering for 24-hour trade, topped off by a purpose-built theatre, the Vegas Show Bar, which will offer sights and sounds traditionally associated with America's gaming capital - though local customers alone will decide whether forthcoming attractions such as Hale and Pace, Bobby Davro, the Grumbleweeds and Boney M match Vegas expectations.

Steinberg's trump card has been to position Stanley ahead of deregulation. The Gambling Bill is likely to take three, possibly four years, to come to fruition. Star City has got the run on the rest.

CAPTION(S):

Leonard Steinberg, chairman of Stanley Leisure, at his new Star City Casino
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Nov 24, 2003
Words:309
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