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U.K. Retreats on Gaming Reform

Updated from 10:05 a.m. EDT

Casino companies' odds of big wins across the pond have fallen, now that the U.K. government has reduced the number of Las Vegas-style super casinos it will allow to one from eight.

The government was forced to make the move Tuesday in order to keep its gambling legislation alive in the face of Conservative Party opposition to a profusion of super casinos.

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport confirmed that the government backed down on the number in order to pass other key parts of the legislation, including a measure that will allow online casino companies to set up shop in the U.K. He said the government had yet to make a decision on where the single large casino would be.

The move marks another retreat for the government, which in November reduced the proposed number of super, or regional, casinos to eight from as many as 40. The latest version of the legislation does allow the government to go to Parliament in the future for an increase in the number of large casinos.

The latest legislation threatens to dash all but one of the big projects proposed in recent years by publicly traded casino operators.

Harrah's Entertainment (HET) had plans to develop as many as eight casinos throughout the U.K. in a 50-50 joint venture with the Gala Group.

MGM Mirage (MGG), which is in the process of merging with Mandalay Resort Group (MBG), had joined forces with several U.K. partners.

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