Whilst the city of Marseille gears up to launching a tender for its first ever casino in the coming months, French operator Partouche is pressing ahead with plans to launch an open air casino in neighbouring La Ciotat.
Its plans to relocate its existing licence at Casino Flots Bleus to a new hotel casino closer to Marseille have been approved. La Ciotat is located to the east of Marseille at an equal distance from Marseille and Toulon, roughly 34km.
Work has just started and should cost around €10m in the Partouche Group. 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 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.
“We will have two casinos, one inside and outside. This is a world first,” said Fabrice Paire, President of Partouche’s Corporate Executive Board. “At present, there is nothing comparable to this. With so many outdoor machines, La Ciotat marks a world first. We recorded a decline in attendance of 25 per cent in the seven years from the end of 2007, partly because of the smoking ban. We have felt the recovery in recent months. But it is true that we need to renew our image. In fact, we are constantly looking for innovative sites and new marketing policies. The few casinos abroad to offer a small part of their games outdoor have significantly outperformed those who have games indoors only.”
Partouche hopes that the new site will generate 20 per cent more GGR than the existing site in Flots Bleus. It is hoping it will be open by the first day of spring next year.