When it comes to the gambling sector, there are few who can match Noakes’ 31 years of experience. Following stints with Ladbrokes and Gala, working in both mainland UK and Gibraltar, Noakes formed his own consultancy firm, designed to work alongside the industry's top firms. It is this in-depth knowledge of the industry that many hope will deliver success to Yorkshire’s latest attraction for years to come. “I’ve spent the majority of my life working in casinos and seen tremendous changes in the industry during that time. The Victoria Gate Casino is the future of casinos in the UK,” Noakes told the Yorkshire Post.
The casino itself, which opened its doors for the first time earlier this year, boasts a 100-player poker room, 24 gaming tables, 140 slot machines and 75 electronic gaming terminals, not to mention two bars stocked with local beers and a restaurant serving locally sourced produce. Given the grand scale of the venue, it is little wonder punters are lost for words when they enter: “People who walk through the doors for the first time are genuinely taken aback,” said Noakes. “We had thousands of people visit us on launch night and so many of them came up to me and said they were stunned. That’s everyone from first-time casino visitors to seasoned professionals.”
Noakes now aims to use his years of wisdom and genuine passion to help Victoria Gate Casino flourish in an industry that is on the up: “I still get the thrill of being on the casino floor, but the business has evolved dramatically and become a genuine leisure experience. So much now happens both in front and behind the scenes to ensure customers have a memorable experience and that variety makes it one of the best jobs out there.” And it isn’t just a venue for gamblers, with Noakes suggesting that up to 50 percent of customers will visit for the bars and restaurant, rather than the casino: “There’s so much more to our offering than just gaming. We’re also in a prime location – right in the heart of the city centre at the Victoria Gate development, meaning we’re perfectly located for customers to pop in on a night out.”
Despite only opening in January, Noakes is already predicting big things for the country’s latest ‘super casino’: “Leeds – and in fact Yorkshire – hasn’t seen anything like this before. The sheer size and scale of the casino has to be seen to be believed.” But this powerhouse of the north has seen casinos come and go in recent years, yet Noakes feels Victoria Gate is able to offer something different: “One of our key elements is our inclusivity. We’ve created areas that have distinctly different atmospheres that will enable people to find the place that suits them. Anyone can visit us, and whilst we have membership options available, it’s not compulsory to sign up.”
If you’re planning a trip to Victoria Gate Casino, head to Gamble’s Casino Reviews page, where you will find a fully independent review of Leed’s latest offering.