On Wednesday 25th October we had the amazing opportunity to visit the Hippodrome Casino and meet the founder Simon Thomas. We arrived at 4pm and were taken up to the bar which overlooked the playing tables; from there we went to the theatre room for a talk about the creation of the Hippodrome Casino. The event at the Hippodrome Casino is run as part of Pearson College London’s scheme to help students get connected with industry and learn more about the careers they could go into after graduation.
Simon started by telling us about the history of the Grade II listed building which was first used in the 1900’s as a music hall and then a circus. During the 3 year long build undertaken by Simon, they found the giant water tank which had remained from the building’s circus years!
After 3 years of construction and the £50 million renovation of the building, the Hippodrome Casino was ready to be launched in 2012. It is open every day of the year, 24/7, apart from Christmas Day.
With such a large footprint to begin with, the Hippodrome Casino's demand soon outgrew their capacity and they were in need of extra space. To fully utilise the space, Simon wanted to extend to the basement, however like any business it is difficult to brand the basement as a desirable place to go. Simon came up with Lola’s Bar, it is a speakeasy style area which also has its own barbers (where any member can get their hair cut for FREE). It is a more ‘traditional’ style of casino, with dancers every night from 8pm, offering a different experience to the more conservative upstairs area.
The success of the Hippodrome Casino mainly came about due to its location. It is on Europe's busiest corner with a footfall of more than 250,000 people per day. However, the success came at the risk that they would need to change the public's perception of what a casino is. Due to changing laws in the gambling industry, it meant that people no longer needed to be a member to go into a casino, and people can go to enjoy a drink at the bar, or attend events such as dancers or heavy weight weigh ins. There is also a steakhouse where you can go to enjoy a night out with a different vibe.
The whole experience and place completely altered my (and everyone else's) preconceived idea of a casino and made the experience highly memorable. It also taught me about the hardships every company goes through and that success doesn't happen overnight, it takes time to make a company profitable. Casino’s are more than just a place to gamble they can also be used as a place to eat and go for drinks and watch entertaining shows.
Written by Jasmine Beynon Maltby