In recent years the world of gaming has undergone many changes which have altered the landscape forever. Time was when people wanting to enjoy an evening at the roulette table or even playing the slots had to physically take themselves to a casino. What’s more they probably had to be a member just to get past the door.
Then came the arrival of the internet and online gaming. Suddenly major online casino operators such as 888casino moved in and made it possible to play from the comfort of your own home, whenever you wanted and for as long or as short a time as you liked. This flexibility was further enhanced by the development of mobile gaming which meant players could literally carry a whole casino around with them in their pockets. Now, with the arrival of virtual reality, it looks like we’re about to take another quantum leap forward in which the online gaming experience will become even more immersive.
This exponential growth of online gaming has had a number of effects on land based casinos and not all of them positive. For example the steady decline in revenue from gaming in Las Vegas has been partly attributed to online competition.
However, over in the UK, the picture seems to be a little more complex. For example, in Birmingham last year one of the country’s biggest-ever land casinos was opened in a £150 million development by the Malaysian betting giant Genting. Boasting 18 bars and restaurants as well as shops and a hotel it’s an obvious attempt to recreate Las Vegas “resort-style” experience in the heart of the Midlands.
The city already had quite a thriving gaming reputation with many casinos catering both for local players and the many visitors that come to Birmingham each year for events held at the National Exhibition Centre and the International Convention Centre that is said to attract over 40% of all convention and conference business in the UK. Genting also has a very large casino in the Star City, itself one of the largest leisure complexes in the UK and there are numerous others in the central area of Birmingham.
As well as being the UK’s second largest city after London, with a population of around 1.1 million, Birmingham’s location in the middle of the country means there is a huge catchment area for potential customers which may be at least part of the reason why the casino industry seems to be so bullish.
Local economy obviously also plays a key part in the outlook for casinos and this showed a 2.5% growth in 2015. However a report by the Centre for Economic and Business Research predicts that this may well slow down to 2% over the coming year. The effect that this will have on the city’s land casinos remains to be seen but they can take heart in the longer prediction that the economy will grow at a faster rate than many other cities outside London.
But whether this will be enough to counter the advance of online gaming and continue to see the casinos of Birmingham thrive, only time will tell.