The UK Needs themed Casinos

The UK Needs Themed Casinos

Comment by J.J. Woods Casino Gaming Consultant

Casinos generally in Britain tend to be either “Stand Alone” or attached to a Hotel. Unlike other countries they are not attached to Golf Courses or Horse race racks and the concept of resort style casino just does not exist. This makes the market very different to other countries, as they very much use other leisure facilities to attract local customers and tourists to their Casinos. In fact the UK Casino model rarely directly markets to visiting Tourists strangely enough.

sun city 1Existing Casinos Names: If we look at some of the Casino names for example: Napoleon’s, Mint Casino, Rendezvous, Maxims and Alea  they hardly inspire fun or excitement and these are the one that actually have names? I mean the majority is called simply after the company that operates them, e.g. Gala Casino (now part of Rank), Grosvenor Casino’s etc.

Maybe when these large Casino chains were taken over the new owners thought it too costly to give them individual names. The reality is that whilst not all of them deserve to be Themed and given an individual name, some of them definitely should, after all what Casino chain in the UK has a strong name in the market like The Hilton, Holiday Inn, Ramada etc that they can rely that their existing customers will use whilst in transit, I don’t believe any of the casinos have a real strength here and I think there customers would be happy to go to any Casino unless they have knocked up some serious loyalty points.

The majority of the Casinos in the UK similar to one another, Nice bar, Restaurant, Reception area etc but they are not unique, except to say the older London Mayfair Casinos which are very stylish in their own way. The Ritz Casino does not need a theme because it already has one and that theme is a beautiful renowned building full of glamour and beautiful décor but can the other London Mayfair Casinos still sell that image of oak panelling with picture and brass light fitting above? I think not, they worked very well over the last four decades but I feel that there are too many of this type of Casino Club in London and after all High Rollers pass on and their sons get educated at University and decide they that maybe Gambling is not for them.

Themed: It is astonishing to think that it was probably the original Playboy Casino in London which gave us our 1st themed casino and by all themed casinos accounts it was very successful but why did the industry not learn from this? I realise the Playboy has since reopened over the last couple of years but in my opinion the brand is worn and the re-opening was 20yrs too late. How may people do you see these days with playboy key rings, stickers on their car etc not too many, whilst it was a great brand I feel it does not work that well in the Casino Market today.

The UK operators need to look at new themes for their Casinos; a good theme would reduce marketing budgets, introduce new players, and bring back the excitement to the Casino floor. That said there is no point as is the case with most casinos in the UK in putting up a name above the casino door and when you pass through the theme and the name disappears!

The theme must run through the whole of the Casino and that includes almost everything, even the gaming tables. I am sure if you talk to cammegh and explain that you are doing a themed Casino they would be more than delighted to offer ideas and input into a themed roulette wheel and why not? We need to change the way people see casinos.

Advantages of themed Casino is also that people get attached to the name, I did not want to get into this but here it is, I think one of the most ridiculous names is ALEA and I am not going to bore you with the meaning etc, but just to say can you imagine a group of people on a night out and one saying “let’s go to Alea’’( no I did not think so) my point is in this particular instance he will undoubtedly say “lets go to the Casino” and depending on location that could be one of several . If I was an operator in that area he would come to my Casino because it is themed and it is called “The Rain Forest’’.

 Lessons Learned:

Over many years people in our industry have asked the question: why do people visit Casinos and one of the popular answers is for the experience. We must bring the experience back to the Casinos , we cannot rely like we did in the past on the gaming tables and the curiosity factor alone. In my day we were trained to make sure that whether  a customer wins loses or draws they left having had a great experience!

The biggest Slot Machine manufacturers year after year roll out new “themed slot machines’’ at the various gaming show around the world. They know that themed slots work and they want to offer their customers the best playing experience. On that note:

Is it not naïve of  UK Casino operators to think that their Casinos do not need to be themed?

First Published in the Infinity Gaming July 2013  Edition

Brief Bio JJ Woods                                                             


JJ Woods was born in Ireland but left in the 1970’s to live in London and he started his career in banking. After four years in Banking in London PIC SHOWS JJ WOODS OF SILKES CLUBPIC JULIEN BEHALJJ trained in the Casino Industry. Over the last 30 years JJ has dedicated his career to the setting up, including: design, opening and management of Casinos around the world

Throughout his time in Ireland JJ has also done several Radio, Television and Newspaper interviews on the subject of Casinos and gaming, he is above all extremely passionate about the Casino Industry and Completed a gaming submission to the Irish Government during Legislation Research. He is a leader in respect of the responsibility of customer care He was responsible for the following Casino designs and set ups in Ireland : Macau (Cork), Silks (Dublin).

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