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CR79-p24&25-interview:SJC-Casino Review 19/4/09 00:53 Page 1
London’s Hipp casino
renovation under way
The world famous
keepingitinthefamily London, the name of Simon investors we formed United
London Hippodrome
INTERVIEW Thomas has been added to Leisure Gaming and the
this list. Thomas is the son of project was born. An operat-
in Leicester Square
In recent years the casino Jimmy, a giant of the British ing company, The Hippo-
is to be completely
operating industry has gaming industry, and like his drome Casino, was
become largely dominated father before him, Simon is established and we applied
renovated and re-
by vast and, sometimes, face- leading a project that will to Westminster Council for
opened as London’s
less organisations. Countless move the industry onto a planning permission to
casinos are now compo- whole new level. redevelop and, in 2007, for a
first modern leisure
nents within regimented The Hippodrome in Gaming Licence.”
casino. Its
corporate structures, some London’s Leicester Square Opposition came from
have become uniform in per- has an amazing history as a Gala, Rank and LCI but the
redevelopment will
sonality and even devoid of world famous entertain- plans were supported by
also herald a return
character. Romantics may ment venue. Built in 1900 as local businesses and resi-
hark back to the era of the a circus, the 74,000sq ft dents. Thomas relished the
to the family values true owner-operator when Grade II listed building has challenge. “It was virtually
of operations gone
the personalities involved had several incarnations. impossible to prove demand
were as famous as the unique For many years it was liter- but the Council knew they
by. Casino Review establishments they created. ally The Talk of The Town and were dealing with an entre-
talks to Simon
In global terms, names like more recently the UK’s most preneurial and well funded
John Aspinall, Stanley Ho and famous nightclub operator, company with a clear objec-
Thomas. Kerry Packer were colourful Peter Stringfellow, was at its tive, to create a global leisure
figureheads for an entire helm and The Hippodrome destination.”
industry. In many ways it may was the best discotheque in The opening of the
therefore be no great sur- Europe. In 2011, Thomas nearby Casino at The Empire
prise that the sons of these intends to unveil the result resulted in initial rejection
great characters are now at of what will be a £15m but a successful appeal was
the forefront of a ‘new wave’ investment, The Hippo- made last September.
of exciting and unique drome Casino. “Given the strength of
casino projects. Damian “Amazingly, given its pre- Simon Thomas Rooms, brought its availabil- objections from major cor-
Aspinall, Lawrence Ho and vious prestige, the venue ity to our attention and its porations the comprehen-
James Packer are proving to lost its Premises Licence in appeal was overwhelming. sive nature of our victory
be every bit as adventurous 2005,” explained Simon Large casino groups looked vindicated our plan for a
as their famous fathers. Thomas. “Mike Pemberton, at the property but together wider entertainment
And now, in the heart of who owns The Crystal with a consortium of private venue,” Thomas said. “This
24 May 2009 • interview
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