One of the foremost entertainment companies in Germany is looking to open up an operation that will bring employment and entertainment opportunities to a Glasgow suburb where both have been in short supply in recent times.
The former Santander bank on Dumbarton Road in Partick closed its doors to the public for the last time in autumn of 2018 and the site has stood vacant ever since.
Now, Gauselmann Group, a German gaming company, has submitted plans to Glasgow City Council to convert the site into an Adult Gaming Centre. If approval is granted, the facility will create six new jobs and benefit Partick’s night time economy.
Brave but shrewd timing
Gauselmann first submitted the application in August of last year. On the face of it, the idea of launching any kind of high street enterprise, and especially one in the leisure sector, under the present circumstances seems either brave or foolhardy. However, there is logic behind Gauselmann’s strategy and timing. We reached out to NoDepositFriend.com for comment on this much anticipated launch, and were told that there has been unprecedented interest in adult gaming over recent months. With other forms of entertainment in short supply, people have naturally been turning to their smartphones and PCs to be kept amused. As a result, online casinos have enjoyed their most successful year in history.
Given that so many people have developed an interest in slot games, video poker, bingo and the like, it is fair to assume that when restrictions are fully lifted, they will welcome the opportunity to indulge this new pastime and try out their strategies in a genuine gaming environment.
Low stakes betting
If approval is granted, the new facility will launch under the Merkur brand. Gauselmann points out in its application that the games will be focused on fun as opposed to big-money gambling. Specifically, Merkur will not include the fixed-odds betting machines that have damaged the reputations of some high-street gambling facilities in recent years.
Memorably described as the crack cocaine of gambling in the press, fixed odds machines attracted plentiful media attention a couple of years ago, as they are characterised by high stakes, rapid bets and poor returns. Gauselmann says that while machines like this are present in some neighbouring facilities (interestingly, there is a Ladbrokes bookmaker in the adjacent property), they will not be a feature of Merkur.
Instead, the focus will be on low-stakes betting, with average wagers expected to be less than 40p. The games themselves will include slots, bingo and other terminal-style games like video poker and baccarat.
An unexpected demographic of gamers
The other thing that Gauselmann has been quick to point out is that the new facility is not expected to create noise, crowds or antisocial behaviour that would adversely affect local residents. Being adult-use only, gaming centres like this do not have the noise and hullabaloo associated with family amusement arcades. But also, the lack of bar facilities reduces the risk of large gatherings or the antisocial behaviour that you might see outside conventional casinos late at night.
In fact, the target demographic that the adult gaming centre will focus on attracting might come as something of a surprise. The male/female split is almost 50/50, reflecting the dramatic increase in female gamers over recent years. Most visitors are expected to arrive alone or in couples, and the most common age range is older than you might expect.
It is worth considering that in Las Vegas, the adult gaming capital of the world, the average age of slot players is just over 55. Add to that the fact that bingo is expected to be one of the most popular games at Merkur, and you can see that the customer base is unlikely to be dominated by youngsters.
Traditional games for traditional gamers
Gaming is often thought of as a high-tech area of entertainment that is at the cutting edge and attracts millennials. However, the types of games on offer at Merkur are different. Bingo and slot games have been around for decades, and while the gaming centre will use modern technology to deliver these games in a high-tech format, the games themselves are highly traditional in nature.
Adding diversity to Partick’s nightlife
Glasgow has seen significant redevelopment and transformation over recent years, but this has been largely limited to the city centre and waterfront areas. Partick is a suburb that lies approximately a mile to the north west and while there has certainly been change, it has not developed to the same extent. Nightlife is mostly limited to traditional bars and pubs, with karaoke, folk nights and other forms of live music entertainment.
Gauselmann suggests that the addition of the new adult gaming centre will bring welcome diversity to Partick’s night time economy, providing a venue where gaming enthusiasts can “spend their spare change” enjoying their favourite games in a sociable surroundings. They also stress that the change of use will enhance the appearance of the neighbourhood, bringing practical use to a commercial building that has stood empty for more than two years, and adding signage that will be sympathetic to the historic building and its surroundings.
Community and council reaction
The application awaits a formal decision from Glasgow City Council. At this stage, however, it seems that locals are broadly supportive of the new facility. At any rate, there are no formal objections on record so far. This is significant, as a similar application to transform a vacant property in Manchester’s Droylsden Shopping Centre that was submitted around the same time elicited a number of concerns and objections from both residents and the local public health authority.
Glasgow City Council is expected to rule on the application in the coming weeks. If approval is granted, it is anticipated that Gausmann will have ample time to prepare the new gaming centre with a view to opening for business when lockdown restrictions allow them to do so during the summer months.