International edition
June 25, 2021

Interview to Ángel María Escolano Belló, President of Casino Gran Madrid

“Opening a casino in Spain is a permanent challenge”

(Spain, exclusive Yogonet.com).- Last June, Angel María Escolano Belló was appointed president of Casino Gran Madrid S.A. The executive also continues as general director of Casino Gran Madrid. In an interview granted to Yogonet.com, he talked about his challenges, the opening of the first Spanish casino outdoors, the online projects and the importance given to poker, among other issues.

T

he group operates three venues in Spain: Casino Gran Madrid, Casino Torrequebrada and Gran Casino Cartagena.

Which will be the main goals as president of Casino Gran Madrid?
The main challenge I face as president of Grupo Gran Madrid is to bring continuity to a solid and professional business project that has achieved to position, for 29 years, as a gaming reference, whose prestige has achieved to go beyond the limits of the country in which it is located, Spain. The management of this patrimony will be one of the big tasks, as well as to advance in the leading positions that our group currently maintains.

Which are the most important projects of the group in the short term?
The task that needs the biggest number of hours at present is to try to bring answers to our customers’ demand in a context of economic crisis. We also try to reinvent ourselves with our ideas and to bet for innovative technologies allowed in the market.

For example, the investor managed to renew the collection of slots of our centers, which has allowed the incorporation of latest-generation machines to our casinos.

Consolidating our position in the poker market is one of the goals that we have planned. As Yogonet readers know, the bet that our group of companies has made is absolute, because we understand that it is the trendy game of chance. In fact, Casino Gran Madrid inaugurated a year ago the first Poker Room in Spain, which has received almost 15,000 people, which have received around 3,000,000 Euros in prizes. Some of the most important national and international poker events have been held there.

Besides, Casino Gran Madrid will inaugurate “Hasard 29”, the first casino outdoors in Spain, and the second of these characteristics in Europe. It has equipment designed by one of the most remarkable designers (Tomás Alía), who, on top of the gaming zone (two tables of American roulettes, two black jack tables and two poker tables) will include a cocktail and drinks zone.

We also work to position our brand, Casino Gran Madrid, in Internet, with the aim to attend the queries that our friends and customers bring us every day.

How has Casino Gran Madrid dealt with the financial crisis that affected Spain?
Unlike the statement that says that games of chance are not affected by the crisis, the fact is that, as a leisure alternative, they have suffered a decrease in incomes, in some cases, close to 25%. That is despite the fact that, in our case, our company of reference (Casino Gran Madrid) achieved in 2009 more visitors than in the last 16 years, although it is true that our customers spend less money in their stays.
If we add other factors to the crisis, as well as the increment of illegal online gaming, the fiscal pressure or legal restrictions (in advertising, for example), we find a more complicated scenario.

Yet, the best challenge we have planned has been to offer our visitors a space in which the games of chance and leisure experience is complete, forgetting for a moment the European economic crisis.

Have you planned to acquire new operations (both in Spain and other countries)?
As a leading company, our vocation is to grow. But that growth has to be supported by rigorous analysis and real business opportunities.

As general director of Casino Gran Madrid, What are the goals you wish to comply?
The fact of managing a casino with near 700 employments, with a games of chance and entertainment offer as wide as ours, with more than half million visitors every year, in the current scenario, and with interesting development projects, forces us to at least rethink and revise the goals constantly, because opening a casino every day is a permanent challenge. Yet, one of those goals will always remain: to offer the best games of chance and leisure environment to our customers, aiming to bring the best service.

Which is the position of the group with regards to remote gaming?
Our position with regards to remote games is very clear. We are openly in favor of them, but not at any condition. Our position is that those games have to be operated respecting the existing authorizations.

Our point of view is the same as the one of the Spanish Casino Association (AECJ), it means, that any online regulation has to be based in the premise that there are the same casino games listed in the different CCAA catalogues, but operated in the computing support instead of the traditional physical channel.

If we think that just new technologies will transform the activity, we are not considering the general policy with regards to online transactions in the main countries worldwide, including the EU. And we would be forgetting the games of chance mathematics of the roulette, the black jack or the games of chance machines.

In our view, the model to boost would be the one in which every legalized brick-and-mortar casino was also authorized for online gaming, based in the gaming license that allows the operation in this sector. In fact, it would be to respect the existing authorizations.

Casino Gran Madrid is working to enter in the online market, because our wish is to move the services that our brand offers to Internet, with the same security and quality guarantees, and with the usual professionalism as we have been working for 29 years.

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