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There is, however, no such assurance about the future of Sotheby’s saleroom which is in the part of Olympia being considered for the leisure complex.

Whatever does happen will be some time away, however, as the Government have shelved proposed changes to the nation’s gambling laws – which would create the opportunity for such a project to go ahead – until 2005.

For some weeks stories in the gaming and property press have reported that leading American gaming and entertainment giant MGM Mirage, owners of the famous Bellagio casino in Las Vegas, had entered into a joint venture with the Earls Court and Olympia Group to create a Vegas-style gambling and entertainment complex at Olympia 2.

There is talk of a £150m investment to transform more than 300,000 square feet of Olympia into the biggest gaming complex in Europe. The terms of the deal are that MGM Mirage have a controlling 82.5 per cent stake and Earls Court and Olympia 17.5 per cent.

Andrew Morris, chief executive of the Olympia group, went as far as to comment: “We are delighted to be working with MGM Mirage on this exciting opportunity.”

But despite his enthusiasm for the project, Mr Morris has pointed out that any development is dependent upon Government deregulation of gaming laws, and local planning permission. There is also an indication that at least part of the plans would be dependent on acquiring land adjacent to the halls.

Despite the impressions given by some sources, it is far from a done deal.

When we approached the Olympia owners, a spokesman confirmed the uncertainty surrounding the proposals, saying: “While this is an exciting opportunity it is at this stage only an intent. It is a number of years away and contingent on both deregulation and the securing of local planning permission.”

It was emphasised that there would be “no operational impact on the Fine Art & Antiques Fairs” and “if anything, a high quality leisure and gaming complex would be a real attraction for visitors to Olympia”.

With regards to Sotheby’s, who have been operating a saleroom within Olympia 2 since 2001, the spokesman added: “We are working closely with Sotheby’s to examine the potential impact on their Olympia business, but at this very early stage no decisions have been made.”

If the casino eventually goes ahead it is unclear whether Sotheby’s could remain in Olympia 2. They initially signed a five-year lease but are thought to be not entirely happy with the venue as a saleroom.