A controversial South African billionaire with close links to Labour was the big winner as Britain's first supercasino licence was awarded to Manchester.
Sol Kerzner is poised to become the most powerful man in the British gaming industry. He can expect to earn tens of millions running the new gaming palace offering the first unlimited jackpots on British soil, along with new large casinos given the green light yesterday in Leeds and Luton.
Officials from Mr Kerzner's company have had at least 12 meetings with three different ministers and the tycoon is a key ally of Millennium Dome boss Philip Anschutz, who entertained John Prescott at his ranch.
Critics accused Labour of betraying its anti-gambling socialist roots and - despite the furore over the Dome's bid - continuing to ignore public anger at its links with controversial foreign businessmen.