D Williams

All we ask for Christmas is a New Year White Paper with some crystal clear opportunities to modernise

December is a critical time for the hospitality and entertainment industries, and for the UK’s 120 land-based casinos, it’s no different. The festive period is a great opportunity for casinos to dispel the out-dated notion they exist solely for gamblers. Of course, gambling is part and parcel of our offering, but showcasing everything else that lies behind the front door is something Grosvenor, the UK’s biggest casino operator, has been doing with more purpose in recent times.

The proportion of the adult population who visit casinos isn’t huge, after all, casino numbers and locations are restricted by legislation. What’s interesting, however, is recent research which shows that a much bigger proportion of the adult population would be interested in visiting a casino if they knew more about what was on offer and could anticipate a premium experience.

At the heart of celebrating this opportunity is service. Casinos enjoy a hard-fought and well-deserved reputation for being at the top of the Christmas tree when it comes to delivering the very best safer gambling experience in the world and that is underpinned by the service of brilliant casino colleagues.

Stripped back to its core elements, safer gambling is always about customer service. When the industry gets its service levels spot on, safer gambling becomes baked into the experience. Visit your local casino and you’ll see that first-hand.

Clubs benefit from a high colleague to customer ratio, and a quiet word with a customer or the offer of a cuppa from a well-known colleague can often be the most effective way of delivering a first-rate safer gaming customer experience. Do we always get it right and never drop the ball? Of course not. But do we always try to offer the best service? Absolutely, yes.

From Plymouth to Aberdeen and in pretty much every major town or city in between, there are Grosvenor casinos offering the best dining, drinking or sports-watching experience around. Already this month, World Cup fans have been enjoying the matches in our clubs on big screens, and when the domestic sport returns it will be front and centre in all our clubs.

In terms of food and drink, casinos are a hidden gem. Menus to rival the best Michelin-starred restaurants can be found in some London clubs and the newly opened restaurant in Grosvenor Blackpool has what is widely believed to be the best Tomahawk steak this side of Wisconsin.

Whether it be the brand spanking new restaurant in London’s Bayswater or in Glasgow’s newly refurbished Merchant City, there are food and drink improvements taking place up and down the land as casinos look to increase their appeal to non-traditional customers. Burgers, pizzas and all the usual pub classics can be enjoyed, with a key difference being we don’t boot you out at pub closing time. We’re proud of our role in the night-time economy.

For the first time in a couple of years, our fabulous teams won’t be grappling with the ghosts of Christmas past, namely curfews, compulsory masks and wonky tiering systems. Weather and strikes notwithstanding, we’ll be guaranteeing a warm welcome for everyone, whether they will be enjoying a Christmas party with us or just escaping the hordes of shoppers for a well-deserved pint and a catch-up of the latest news on Sky Sports.

As the baubles and tinsel are being packed away this New Year, the industry’s attention will immediately shift back to the Government’s imminent White Paper. For casinos, it can’t come a moment too soon. We’ve spent the best part of two years arguing for a series of modest but mission-critical proposals that are underpinned by safer gambling protections.

Casinos enjoy widespread political support and, if implemented by the Government, our proposals will help labour-intensive and highly tax-generative casinos to sustain jobs and offer adults a richer, more rounded casino experience. All we ask for Christmas is a New Year White Paper with some crystal clear opportunities to modernise. In turn, it will provide the clear air that the casino industry needs to keep on improving on the fabulous service we’re keen to offer to gamblers and non-gamblers alike in all our venues this Christmas and for many more Christmases to come.

David Williams, Director of Public Affairs, Rank Group

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