London casino giant Aspinalls has gone online after four decades in the brick-and-mortar casino business. I talked with Russell Foreman, CEO of the new Aspinalls.com online casino, to find out what they’re bringing to the proverbial Internet gaming table.
WINNERonline: Why take Aspinalls online at this point?
Russell Foreman: The Aspinall family could see the potential of online gambling, but they wanted to be sure this wasn’t a flash in the pan. They wanted to explore the long-term potential to see whether this was a credible business.
Aspinalls is a natural [choice for an online casino]. We bring our long-term experience to bear, and people know this is a name they can rely on. Being a public company also adds another level of trust to this. We are completely transparent. You know who you’re going to play with.
Wo: I see that Aspinalls.com offers a London casino and a Caribbean casino. Do the two just look different?
RF: The sites do look different, but there will also be different games available. The London casino will offer players more table games, and the Caribbean casino will be predominantly slots.
Wo: Are you planning to develop other theme casinos over time?
RF: Yes. I’m planning to launch a number of casinos in the next little while, each with a geographical emphasis. They will feature 789 games that are popular in that area, so some casinos may have a lot of slots while others will have several types of poker, for example.
Wo: What type of games does Aspinalls.com offer?
RF: I’ll be offering the standard run of games – poker, blackjack, baccarat, slots, and so on – as well as competition-style games. The competition games will be pay-to-play, and will be offered in both tournament- and multi-player formats. And this is where we will differentiate ourselves from other casinos.
Wo: Where is the casino licensed?
RF: Kahnawake. We were very impressed by the operation. We found that they were very professional, provided good maintenance, and good connectivity.
Wo: The sportsbook isn’t open to U.S. residents. Does that mean that the casino is?
RF: Yes. As far as I’m concerned, there is no problem offering the casino to U.S. citizens. We – our lawyers and I – decided the Wire Act [which prohibits sports betting via the telephone] was fairly specific with regard to sports betting, but it didn’t apply to casinos.
Wo: Are you hoping to attract Europeans to the casino or an international audience?
RF: An international audience. The sportsbook is meant to compliment the casino. It’s a useful service to our customers, but our major focus is developing a series of casinos. Players will be able to play at the casinos in any currency, and will be offered the same loyalty programs at each casino.
Wo: What do you think about last week’s decision to move ahead with online gambling in Nevada?
RF: In general, I’m fully supportive of the U.S. gaming companies and of opening the market in the U.S.A. The more positive attention the industry gets, the better it is for everyone. The industry won’t be dominated by one or two names, but there will be a few names that stand out. And I believe we will be one of those names.
That said, there is still a huge conundrum for the other states and what they should do. They are forced to deal with draconian rules for betting, but I don’t see how you can restrict the states from offering casinos.
Wo: Do you think Aspinalls.com has something different to offer players that they might not find elsewhere?
RF: I believe that today’s Internet fads will be history tomorrow. So we don’t plan to offer any flashy gimmicks. Aspinalls.com will be as good as anybody else, but will have longevity. What I offer is ongoing service, as opposed to short-term flash.
Wo: Are there any big promotions planned for the launch?
RF: We are testing different markets, and we want to be properly competitive where we need to be. Our goal is a first-class delivery [of the casino]. I will be offering first-class holidays, complete with chauffer, luxury hotels, and all the other perks as draws or competitions with the launch. It’s important for us to demonstrate an extra level of customer support.
Wo: Any closing comments?
RF: This is a good industry, a young industry, but it has a sketchy record. There aren’t many known organizations, and not many reliable ones. I hope to change that.