a company due to open its first casino in Newcastle later this year has donated two 6ft stone lions to stand guard outside the city's Chinatown.

Aspinall's will open its first Aspers Casino at The Gate, in Newcastle.

The eyes of the lions, at the foot of the city's Chinese arch, were dotted by Newcastle Mayor George Douglas and James Osborne, managing director of Aspinall's.

The ceremony symbolically awakens the lions, bringing good luck.

Work started last year on the casino. The 45,000sq ft casino will open at the award-winning leisure venue later this year.

With a capacity of more than 1,200, the casino will have a South Seas themed dcor with two bars, one for live entertainment on a raised stage behind the bar.

A second bar will have sports screens, and a restaurant.

Three gaming floors will include a VIP area, an area for social gaming where friends can play anything from mah jong or poker to backgammon, a gaming area and a main floor for gaming tables and "slots."