French operator Partouche has now laid the first stone for its ambitious ‘outdoor’ casino in La Ciotat, half an hour drive to the east of Marseille.
The ceremony took place in the presence of 100 guests with a parchment bearing the names of players in the ceremony cemented in a low wall opposite the site.
The 150 slot property will have two gaming floors, one inside and outside, marking a world first for a floor of the size planned. Partouche hopes that the new site will generate 20 per cent more GGR than the existing site in Flots Bleus due to the capacity for players to smoke whilst they are playing.
Isidore and Patrick Partouche, Founder and President of the group’s supervisory board, over saw the ceremony with Patrick Bore, the mayor of La Ciotat, Fabrice Paire, CEO of Partouche, John Carrese, CEO of La Ciotat, and Frédéric Blardone, the future casino’s director.
Mr. Bore said: “This project has so far taken 12 years to complete, after an obstacle course which has included economic crisis, new regulations, the development of online gaming, and laws prohibiting smoking in public places. We have had to overcome all these the challenges. We are proud of this first stone.”
Patrick Partouche added: “This is our most fun and interesting project to date. This will be a revolutionary casino through which we project the new tools of tomorrow.
The €10m casino is expected to open in March 2017. Designed by the architectural firm Marc Fercy, the building will look like a boat hull overturned with a terrace of 1.300 m2 housing several tables and slot machines.
Huge canvas umbrellas will be installed to offer the players shade or cover them from rain. Security will be provided by glass walls lined by hedges of prickly plants. Players will be able to enjoy views of the bay but more importantly they will be able to smoke whilst playing. Since the smoking ban came in 2008, GGR at French casinos and those owned by Partouche have fallen. Last year saw another decline, this time by 2.6 per cent by the French casino sector as a whole and by 2.1 per cent by Partouche’s French casinos which generated €514.5m.