A DELEGATION has flown to Las Vegas to fight for a £100m development deal that could bring 2,000 jobs to the Tees Valley.

Middlesbrough Football Club chief executive Keith Lamb invited Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon and Tees Valley Regeneration (TVR) chief executive Joe Docherty to the gambling haven to woo a leading US leisure group.

If successful, TVR's flagship Middlehaven development in Middlesbrough could become home to a US-style gambling enterprise with niche retail outlets, entertainment and restaurants.

Mr Mallon was present last month when the £500m grand vision was unveiled for the Middlehaven site.

More than 2,400 houses, 80,000 sq ft of commercial development and 500,000sq ft of leisure use will be built over 20 years. There will also be a primary school and a fresh site for Middlesbrough College. The mayor described the plans as "the bedrock on which the future of our town will depend".

Mr Docherty said at the time: "Middlehaven will be the spark which lights the touch paper for the regeneration of the whole of the Tees Valley."

It is understood that last month's unveiling of the Middlehaven plan was the catalyst for this week's Las Vegas trip.

A representative from the US leisure group was at the event and the trio from the region were invited across the Atlantic to repeat the presentation to a wider audience.

Last night, Mr Docherty, speaking from Las Vegas, said: "We are delighted to support Middlesbrough Football Club in their endeavours to attract a major leisure operator to the town.

"No development is too good for Middlesbrough. The level of international interest generated in Middlehaven reflects the ambitions of our plans."

The American interest has been kindled by the expectation that wholesale changes are to be made to gambling laws in this country.

The Government is looking to review the law which could could lead to a doubling of casinos. At present, casinos can only be built in designated areas, but this restriction is likely to be scrapped.