When To Expect Sky High Casino Gambling Plans

Source: Airways Magazine

If you are nervous about flying, you may think that air travel is a gamble enough, but if two French aviation design studios come up with their ideas, it may not be long before those who enjoy casino games may get to play roulette onon the plane, and maybe also poker and blackjack!

On the flight casino Gambling

Jean-Pierre Alfano of AirJet Designs and Frdrique Houssard, founder of Designescence, are currently working together on the development of their Casino Jet Lounge, which consists of a luxury bar and casino which they believe could one day become standard on commercial long-haul flights. Their Casino Jet Lounge is equipped with trendy seats, a drinks area and a blackjack table.

Houssard explains, "We're trying to bring back the glamour of the 50s and 60s, as seen in the James Bond movies." The concept with Houssard and Alfano casino in the air is still relatively new, and the designers are currently in talks with various airlines.

History of gambling in the air

Some might think that setting up an area on the plane casino is a little futuristic, but the concept of in-flight gambling has been around for some time. Singapore Airlines was one of the first to offer high-flyer gambling in 1981, when they equipped planes with bespoke light slot machines installed in the aisles on a flight between Singapore and the US city of San Francisco. Unfortunately, this gambling experiment lasted a full eight weeks. The company then removed the in-flight gaming equipment and said the slots posed an 'operational challenge' for them.

In the 1990s, Swissair took on the challenge of in-flight gameplay, offering passengers the chance to wager sums of up to $350 by playing a selection of standard casino classics such as blackjack, keno and poker. Swissair's software-based system was in operation until 1998, and several other airlines were reportedly interested in taking up the idea. However, a plane crash involving a Swissair aircraft in 1998 soon erased any corporate appetite for in-flight gambling facilities. A subsequent investigation into the plane crash in the Swissair disaster suggested that the problems were caused by a fault in the aircraft's entertainment system.

Over time, the airlines began to play with the concept of offering gambling as an option for air travel again. A Ryanair announcement in 2004 indicated that the company would introduce gambling via an on-board entertainment system, although this feature has yet to be implemented. Stephen McNamara, Ryanair's head of communications, said in response to a question that Ryanair still hoped to introduce the idea as part of its future plans.

"We don't have the technology at the moment," he said, but he was hopeful that they could be operational "in the next two or three years." He explained the delay a bit further, saying: "The reason we don't currently [offer gambling] is because of the cost of the Wi-Fi technology required for it." He added that Ryanair was waiting for the price of the equipment to fall.

Virgin Atlantic is another passenger airline that has considered the idea of bringing gambling on board to improve its passenger experience. In 2005, Virgin Atlantic Airways boss Richard Branson said that a small number of recently purchased A380s would be equipped with double beds and casinos.

When the news was announced, Branson was reported to have jokingly told the New York Times that Virgin passengers would have "two options to get lucky on a Virgin flight."

But the company appeared to have brushed the whole idea aside when another Virgin spokesman later admitted to CNN that Virgin's casino concept was "just an idea, along with many other ideas we talked about a few years ago."

"Frankly," he said, "we did not really got any further than that." However, Virgin refused to give a reason why it has decided not to install casinos on its A380s.

WLAN technology

As we delve further into the matter, there seem to be other disadvantages beyond simply coughing up funding for the original infrastructure investment: for example, now that Wi-Fi access is becoming increasingly common on passenger flights, passengers could simply access mobile casino pages from their own handsets, which seems to negate the point of any airline investment in their own play facilities.

Ryanair plans to address the problem by providing "closed loop" Wi-Fi so that gambling passengers would be forced to use the company's own system, but Houssard and Alfano do not see online gambling as a threat to their concept.

Alfano notes: "If you are on a 14-hour flight, even if you are in business class, you can only eat, drink, watch movies and sleep. Casino Jet Lounge is not just a bar or entertainment idea, we see it as a social space."

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