Branson in move to take advantage of explosion in casinos

Richard Branson is in talks with leading British and American casino operators. They are discussing deals aimed at putting the Virgin brand name over one or more of the new giant casinos to be permitted when the Gaming Bill becomes law.

Richard Branson is in talks with leading British and American casino operators. They are discussing deals aimed at putting the Virgin brand name over one or more of the new giant casinos to be permitted when the Gaming Bill becomes law.

"It is an area we are closely looking at," Will Whitehorn, Mr Branson's main spokesman, said. "We have had a number of approaches, from both sides of the Atlantic, about using our name in casinos."

The Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, will legalise large-scale gambling establishments on the scale which has applied in Las Vegas and Australia for some years. The latest thinking is that there will be nine or 10 such casinos throughout Britain, on a regional basis. They will each house 1,250 slot machines as well as tables offering poker, blackjack and roulette.

Las Vegas operators such as Caesar's Palace have joined their British counterparts in expressing an interest in running these outlets. However, there has been considerable opposition from pressure groups keen to resist the original proposals for a free-for-all.

"We have not decided to do anything yet," Mr Whitehorn said. "It's early days and we will definitely wait until the outcome of the Bill." Nevertheless, Mr Branson has been running an online gaming business for the past 10 weeks, and his company has joined the British Casino Association. These are seen by industry insiders as telling signs that Mr Branson is preparing to enter the sector in a significant way.

The Virgin name is highly attractive to operators who want to appeal both to experienced gamblers and to novices, as Virgin is already well-known and trusted through its mobile phones, records, financial services and airlines.

Virgin Atlantic, the long-haul airline, has been running direct flights between the UK and Las Vegas for more than four years, giving the group exposure to the gambling fraternity. Mr Branson's business development executives are understood to have taken advantage of the opportunity to study casinos at first hand.

Such studies indicate there is considerable expertise involved in running casinos successfully. And as Mr Branson has already shown a liking for joint ventures - Virgin Atlantic is 49 per cent owned by Singapore Airlines - he would find no difficulty in marrying the Virgin name to casinos run by established operators. His participation would equally help to smooth the path for a foreign entrant into the new market.

There are three main business models which might be employed. Either, as with Virgin Atlantic, a joint-venture company could be set up; or a casino operator could charge a management fee for running a Virgin casino; or Virgin could take a royalty for lending its name to a casino run by an approved operator.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee