MD Craig Leviton said its work with Manchester City Council and Blackpool Council was ‘much broader’ than casino-related activity and involved advising on wider regeneration issues.
He added that ‘entirely different personnel’ worked on each account, and that both clients had ‘always been aware’ of the situation.
One rival agency boss said: ‘It’s difficult to know whether to be outraged, or to see it as a tribute to LLM’s specialisation.’
The Casino Advisory Panel last week recommended Manchester to host the UK’s first super-casino. The recommendation will be considered by MPs in four to six weeks, when Blackpool Council plans to continue with its lobbying.
This Tuesday, MPs – led by Blackpool North’s Joan Humble – tabled an Early Day Motion urging the Government to reconsider.
One parliamentary official close to the EDM expressed surprise that LLM had worked on both bids: ‘We realised it was registered on the APPC website as working for Manchester, but we didn’t know it was actually working on the bid.’
Leviton declined to comment on whether LLM would be working on Blackpool’s challenge: ‘Blackpool will continue to argue that it has a strong regeneration message and will bid if future licences are made available.’
Both councils were LLM clients before the Gambling Act was passed in 2005. One senior PA practitioner told PRWeek: ‘Before the act, authorities such as Manchester were working to a common goal of seeing a significant number of regional casinos in the UK. But since the Government announced that only one regional casino was allowed, this has looked like a conflict.’
Blackpool Council said LLM had been advising on ‘analysis of competing bids’ and ‘drafting responses’ to CAP.
Manchester was unavailable for comment.