In today’s world, it has never been easier to find and play casino games. As well as the traditional land-based gaming facilities, the internet is awash with websites and apps that offer all of the most common card, table, and slot games. In fact, there is so much choice that it can sometimes be difficult to know which one to use, especially with the myriad of different promotions that they almost all offer to new customers.
Despite all this competition, there are still some wealthy individuals that see building and operating a casino as a good business opportunity. Some will choose to go down the online route, building a website and app to serve their customers, but many prefer to construct a physical casino where players can sit among hundreds of slot machines or at the green felt tables while they play cards.
Thanks to Hollywood movies, most of us picture casinos as the giant megastructures that line the Las Vegas strip. But here in the UK, most of our brick-and-mortar facilities are a little more modest.
For nearly 20 years, there has been talk about building one of these Vegas-style facilities on the shores of Great Britain. In fact, plans were approved for one to go ahead in Manchester, but circumstances conspired against it and it never went ahead. In the last couple of years, the discussions have begun to resurface, though most of the focus has been on Blackpool rather than Manchester.
Little progress has been made thus far, but if a Vegas-style mega-casino were to appear among the illuminations, Elvis-impersonators, and rock stalls of Blackpool, what design and construction work would have to take place first?
Find Some Land
You can’t build a casino without having first found a place to put it. Blackpool is a popular suggestion for a British mega casino because it has several sites that could be redeveloped which are close to the other facilities in the town.
After finding somewhere suitable, this land would need to be purchased which would require the existing owner(s) to be willing to sell it.
Building a large casino resort would cost a lot of money, likely into the hundreds of millions of pounds. Since even many large investors don’t have that kind of cash lying around, they’d need to seek some sort of financing arrangement.
That may be through loans, the issuing of a bond, selling shares in the company that will build and own the casino, or by getting the funds from a small number of private investors.
To be able to justify a request for millions from whichever investors they approach, they’d need to put together a business case that shows the venture could deliver a return. To make this point, they may also want to accompany any proposal with visuals to help investors properly imagine their dream.
Planning and Approval
With the land and financing in place, the developers would need to get permission to build a casino.
In the UK, constructing almost any sort of building requires planning permission from the local council. This is a lengthy process where the public is asked to provide their opinions on the proposals, though small developments like an extension to a house are much simpler than a grand casino resort.
In this case, environmental assessments, economic impact studies, and investigations into traffic and disruption would have to be undertaken.
On top of that, approval from the central government is likely to be required for a casino and may even need a specific law to be passed in parliament. This could take years to be completed.
Some initial design work will be required to get planning permission, though this won’t be done with any fine detail. Instead, it may just involve some basic CGI renders of the external facades, with few considerations of how this would actually be achieved.
Assuming all the necessary approvals are given, a full design process will be required. Such a high profile project would attract the interest of many leading architects, so there could well be a design competition held to get different options.
Once an architect was appointed, they’d get to work designing all the fine details like the layouts of rooms, where the mechanical and electrical services would be housed, and what materials should be used.
They’d also work with a team of engineers to be sure that the design was structurally sound, ensuring that the casino could stand up to the forces placed on it by the Blackpool wind and rain, the thousands of guests that could be inside it at any one time, and the hundreds of heavy gaming machines that would line its floors.
The final design may need further planning approval, so it would need to be submitted to the local authorities.
There are thousands of construction companies in the UK, though probably only a couple of dozen that would actually be capable of building a casino resort of this size.
These companies would be invited to tender for the contract to construct it. This might be done after the design is complete or during the design process. Under the latter scenario, a “design and build” contract would be used to give the construction company input on how the final design would be developed. This approach helps to spread some of the risk across the developer and the builder, but it also gives them the chance to provide input on what would be a feasible design.
Once a contractor had been chosen, the work could commence.
The construction of a casino resort on this scale would span at least a couple of years, though this could be longer if there are delays. Careful planning would be required to accommodate the large volumes of people and vehicles that would be visiting the site so that the disruption to the local area was minimised.
Works would start with the digging of foundations before a steel frame was erected, and concrete poured to make the “slab” that the building would sit on. Everything else would then be built around the frame, most likely using a specialist cladding system to create a modern aesthetic on the facade.
Different teams of subcontractors would be used at different stages, with painters, decorators, and IT engineers often being some of the last to get involved. All the electrical equipment would also need to be PAT tested and signed off to confirm it was safe.
Once complete, the casino’s games would be moved in and positioned in accordance with the architect’s design. The developers would then get a chance to approve the works, along with the authorities who would need to check that certain planning conditions had been met.
Once everything was signed off, the casino’s staff could begin work, testing everything is ready and being trained on all the games and the casino’s facilities.
Then, once everything was ready, the doors could be opened for the first players to try a few hands of their favourite games.