Swansea predicted to be UK’s leisure hotspot - Tuesday 15th of May 2007

THE owner of Wales’ newest casino yesterday boasted it would become the country’s number one leisure destination within a year.

Multi-millionaire Damien Aspinall, who is planning a string of glitzy gambling outlets across Britain, made the claim yesterday as he viewed work on the new Swansea casino, which opens this September.

Mr Aspinall was destined to be in the spotlight from an early age. He is the son of the famous casino, club owner and conservationist John Aspinall whose name will go down in history as the founder of the UK’s very first large-scale casino, the Clermont Club in London’s Mayfair.

As well as being part of the international jet set and friend of Lord Lucan and millionaire businessman James Goldsmith, John Aspinall also devoted much time and money into establishing two private zoos at two of his stately homes in Kent.

Since his death six years ago his Millfield School-educated son, Damien – married to actress and presenter Donna Air – has taken over his father’s casino empire.

The first of his planned new upmarket chain of Aspers casinos opened in Newcastle 18 months ago and has been a major success.

Aspinall said yesterday, “We attract 10,000 people a week to the Newcastle Aspers and it is not just locals. People come down from Scotland and up from places like Manchester and Liverpool.”

The House of Lords’s rejection of government plans to shake up Britain’s gambling laws has put proposals for a “super casino” in Manchester plus 16 smaller regional super casinos on hold.

There had been plans for the new casinos to be “walk in” where membership was not required and for Las Vegas-style big jackpots on slot machines.

But Aspinall believes his chain, including the Swansea venue, can be just as attractive to punters.

He said, “With the success of the Newcastle casino I predict our Swansea centre will be the number one leisure destination in Wales in 12 months’ time.

“It will help the hotel, restaurant and general tourism trade because it will give Swansea that bit extra to offer visitors.”

Recruiting for the new Swansea Aspers begins this week with 200 staff being sought.

Mr Aspinall has joined forces in setting up the new casino chain with James Packer, son of the late Kerry Packer, the Australian casino tycoon and entrepreneur whose “cricket circus” in the 1970s revolutionised the game.

Speaking outside the Swansea Aspers yesterday Mr Aspinall said, “My dad and Kerry Packer were great pals so it’s no surprise myself and James have got together.” He said, “The decision makers want an outward-looking entertainment complex with shops, boulevards and bars, not everything going on inside a box. We are the ones to deliver that type of thing.”

Mr Aspinall ‘s passion for rehabilitating endangered animal species is inherited from his father, who after winning a fortune at the races in 1956 bought Howletts – a country house in Kent with 39 acres of gardens and parkland. Here he invested his gambling wins on nurturing a collection of animals, which included gorillas, tigers, elephant and rhinos.

Then in 1973, John Aspinall acquired a sister estate with 275 acres of land – Port Lympne – which also became an animal reserve.

Damien Aspinall’s team includes his wife and three daughters.

The jobs on offer

Aspers Casino in Swansea, which opens on September 6 this year, is looking for 200 staff.

And the dealers, croupiers, security staff, receptionists and others working in the glass and leather interior of the new gaming venue will be trained at the Aspers Academy, a training centre for casino staff to be established in Swansea.

The new casino is looking for sharp-eyed security workers who will be trained to look out for professional cheats who sometimes use magnetic gadgets in an attempt to influence roulette wheel spins.

The security workers will also look out for teams who tip each other off in card games and others who use tiny computers to work out odds and statistics.

Other jobs include

Dealers

To assist in the creation of a welcoming, friendly and courteous gaming environment while conducting the table games accurately and efficiently in accordance with company procedures.

Inspectors

To oversee the gaming tables. To assist the dealers running the table games fairly and efficiently. And to help customers to take part, by providing information about a customer’s regular style of play.

Cashiers

To maintain the operational efficiency of the cash desk and comply with all procedural and regulatory requirements.

Pit boss

To maintain the efficient and fair running of the Gaming Pit. To give assistance to customers and support to the Dealers and Inspectors. And to inform the managers of unusual circumstances regarding performance levels of either staff or the gaming.

Casino managers

To effectively manage all aspects of the casinos operation on a day-to-day basis.

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