Up in the air at the casino!Sunday, April 3, 2011
And that isn’t a joke! Thanks to the efforts of some Asian sponsors, more than serious, a new A380 is in the course of being built that will host...a casino! We do not doubt for an instant the incredible market that would open up with this new type of luxury cruise...However, let’s not get carried away too quickly, and if the fact that it didn’t exist prior to the “super jumbo” A380, a private aircraft big enough for a truly full-sized casino to fit onboard, legislation itself now poses a risk of not accelerating this new business.
Some companies have already tried to incorporate slot machines into their aircraft, Singapore Airlines for example. But the idea quickly turned sour, for although these devices were designed in plastic, out of concern for overload, they quickly proved hazardous because of the waiting line, which risked destabilizing the aircraft. That being so, this first experience easily offered a glimpse of what lay ahead.
The popularity of gambling has never had to suffer very long from technical glitches, and if this trial took place almost 30 years ago, today it is no longer a few plastic slot machines in question, but a real casino in full flight!
The principal issue remains the legality of such a project. Like British Airways did in 1994, with the withdrawal of its individual screens allowing passengers to play at the casino, should the Airbus Company also give up, pending a more lenient law in certain states?
For whether it be the United States, where a law specifically prohibits this type of activity, or Switzerland, where a terrible accident caused by in-flight gambling games somewhat cooled the developers, a number of countries are not yet ready for such a revolution. Even Macau, which recently stole the spotlight from Las Vegas in taking over the lead as the premier game center in the world, is embedded in a context of an outright prohibition of gambling existing in a majority of Asian countries, and yet of the very origin of this extraordinary project!
But the real reason why these types of flying casinos will not see the light of day before 2012 can be found in a whole other agenda than simply passenger safety...As everyone knows the sky belongs to everyone and to no one in particular! This carries the risk of strongly displeasing certain governments, as it prevents them from being able to control gambling games...And above all to tax them!
François Chazelle, director of the private aviation branch of the European aircraft manufacturer, states for his part that, “discussions are ongoing, not just with casino managers,” and finishes by explaining that it is, above all, the possibility of offering “such an extraordinary activity” that motivates the project, rather than trying to circumvent the law. Verdict in 2012!