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THE JAMES BOND-SYNDROME
by Kristian Nygaard

THE JAMES BOND-SYNDROME

Oh, how I love those old James Bond-movies with agent 007 saving the world from many a maniac villain...And at the same time conquering some of the best-looking women around.
And have you noticed how often the famed British agent is seen in a casino....It is as though the green-carpeted tables fit perfectly for a man who is never afraid of gambling, even with his own life....
From the opening scene taken from a London casino club in ”Dr.No” to the meeting of 007 and the beautiful yet mysterious comtessa Teresa di Vincenzo in an Italian resort in ”On Her Majesty's Secret Service”, casinos have been an integrated part of the movie series. A background for the jetset life, that is the scene for the plots. As a matter of fact, the first (and also the latest) part of the saga was named ”Casino Royale”....What a title!
Yes, I really do love those movies....
Unfortunately, so does it seem that other Europeans with influence in the casino industry does.
Actually, it is as though most of the present-day European casino industry suffer from a ”James Bond”-syndrome.
Almost all Western European casinos appeal only to the high-end of the market...The local upper class, the wealthy tourists, participants in major conferences and incentive tours. Poor marketing, little public appeal, high entry fees etc. have somewhere along the way meant that the general public got lost and was never recovered.
Take the native country of James Bond (yes, he just keep on popping up....!), Great Britain...Here for many years the only casinos were dedicated private clubs where you had to be a member in order to enter and play. In many cases the membership was very exclusive to only a few groups (read: The upper class) in the society.
Or take the example of my home country, Denmark. Here casinos were legalized some 20 years ago with the argument that it would help bring more foreign tourists from the high-end market as well as being a factor in attracting international conferences to the country.
And there was not a single word mentioned about the public appeal and demand for legalized gambling. In some way, it was seen as almost immoral to appeal to the general population of Denmark. As a result, today all casinos are located near 5 star hotels or major conference venues. At the very same time, popular gambling has never been at a higher peak than as of today. But only in gambling halls, betting and Internet-based casinos.
Why has the development in Western Europe been like this? After all, if we look elsewhere around the world, the casinos are blossoming and enjoy massive popular appeal. This is very evident in the case of USA, Australia, South Africa and Macau.
Well, if we concentrate on the development in Europe and USA, then some of the differences can be explained historically.
In Europe, legal gambling was for decades confined to the small nation of Monaco. This tiny strip of land on the French Riviera, was at the same time known as a playground for the aristocrats. In brief, it was a tourist destination for the upper class. In those days you would never ever see a common peasant or industrial worker spending their vacation (which was of extremely limited duration) there. Combined with the fact that even the citizens of Monaco were banned from entry to the Monte Carlo casino, only the true upper class would set their feet in the establishment.
Thus the enduring image of casinos for the rich was created. And it would many, many years later be cemented with the James Bond-movies....
In USA, on the other hand, the development of gambling in Las Vegas coincided with the rise of the middle class after the 2nd World War. Las Vegas was basically 'developed' as a resort town for people living in the nearby metropolis of Los Angeles that could easily drive there in their car and enjoy all the good things in life that were otherwise prohibited in other states.
In today's casino marketing there is a fine line between appealing to the wealthy and appealing to the dream of wealth. Casinos in Western Europe often do the first, while casinos in ie. USA do the latter.
Let us take an example in the form of Rio Suites and Casino in Las Vegas. We are talking about a mighty fine establishment with all suites, lavish restaurants and entertainment by world-class artists. But just the other day I received an offer from them of just 59 $ per night. Surely, a price that would not scare away anyone. This is a very clear example of how succesful casinos maintain an air of luxury and style but at the same time make this affordable and achievable for everyone.
Thus the situation in Europe is not that positive. Popular gambling exist almost exclusively outside of the major casinos and the very same casinos have not been able to break the historical spell that lies upon them.
Perhaps the only positive news come from the Eastern European countries. It looks like they are more willing to apply the international way of doing gambling. These countries are also not burdened by the historical unwillingness that characterize the Western European countries.
In one of the areas where I have been working, Kaliningrad, we truly intent on creating a tourism destination aimed at anyone. And I might add a destination where popular gambling will be the cornerstone. In brief, a place where everybody are welcome.
Being a secret agent or not.....

Date Posted: 13-Apr-2008



 
 
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