SHEFFIELD city centre’s reputation as a leisure destination is given a significant twist this weekend with the opening of a 24-hour casino.
Genting, the UK’s largest operator of casinos, is launching its £13m venture under the ‘cheesegrater’ car park at the corner of Arundel Gate and Howard Street after eight months of development.
The complex spans two floors and includes two restaurants, a cocktail and champagne bar and a late night lounge bar.
It is being welcomed by civic leaders as a significant boost to the city’s leisure economy, especially for the 150 jobs it is creating.
After a recruitment day in the city, there were 1,200 applications for posts ranging from gaming floor staff and croupiers to waiters and waitresses to kitchen assistants, security staff and cleaners.
Kath Barton, general manager of Genting Club Sheffield, said: “We were delighted with the response to our recruitment process in Sheffield. Not only did we get a lot of applications, the quality of the applicants was of a very high standard too.
“Having held similar recruitment drives in other cities, we were expecting a large number of people to apply. However, the level of response in Sheffield has been particularly high.”
Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said: “The investment in the city centre over the last 15 years has transformed the city centre, and we now have a huge range of restaurants and other venues to complement the theatres. There is so much to do in the city. This is another addition, which will attract people to the city centre.”
The number of applicants for the jobs was a reflection of the difficult employment situation during the recession, said Mr Blomfield.
Plans for a casino in the middle of Sheffield have been on the table for years.
As well as the operation opening tomorrow night (Friday), council permission was granted last year for the former National Union of Mineworkers’ headquarters, next to the City Hall, to be converted by the Barnsley-based Brook Leisure Group into a casino with two restaurants and a rooftop bar.
The company already operates Embrace night club in Barker’s Pool and the Crystal Bar in Carver Street.
Seven years ago, Sheffield was at the forefront of national moves to license the UK’s first ‘super-casino’, despite some opposition over the potential risks of encouraging gambling addiction through such a large high profile operation.
International operators identified possible sites next to Meadowhall, at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane stadium and at the Don Valley Stadium, but Sheffield was not chosen.
The vote went to Blackpool, only for the then Labour Government to go cold on the idea.
Genting Casino arrives at a time when Sheffield already has Napoleon’s Casinos in Ecclesall Road and at Owlerton and the Grosvenor G Casino off Queens Road.
It has taken premises that were earmarked for a Gatecrasher nightclub until the council rejected the application because of the predicted disturbance to residents of nearby apartments.
The main restaurant in the Arundel Gate complex is the Fahrenheit Bar and Grill. The Hou Mei Asian café will be open 24 hours a day.
Ms Barton said the club was aiming to attract customers “who may never have stepped foot inside a casino before and who simply want to enjoy the restaurant, bar and other leisure facilities”
Paul Willcock, managing director for Genting UK’s provincial estate, said: “Genting Club Sheffield will be Genting’s second largest premises in the UK and our first in Yorkshire. Sheffield is a hugely vibrant city and we believe there is space in the market for a new and complete leisure offering.”
After opening to the public tomorrow at 9pm, there will be an invitation-only event on Saturday attended by Sheffield’s Olympic champion, Jessica Ennis.
Genting UK is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Genting Malaysia and has more than 40 outlets across the country.
In London, the group owns the oldest private members gaming club in the world, Crockfords, along with the Colony Club, Maxims, Palm Beach and Mint.