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Montecasino July 09 www. bus- ex. com 97 " We do everything we can," explains Howell, " to increase footfall on our site. We want to turn a casual visit into a regular occurrence on the basis that some of these new visitors will eventually enter the casino. We're quite happy for promoters to make maximum profit so long as it brings members of our target market here." On average, there is something in the order of 700,000 to a million visits a month. Half go to the casino and half to all the other options. Howell estimates that 40 per cent of people who enter the casino spend money gambling. Instead of pure smart cards, the slots work with a ticket in/ ticket out system. Most are multi- coin, enabling the punter to choose the value of his bet- anything from a few cents to a few hundred rand. The thrill of seeing a bucket full of coins spewing out of the slot machine no longer exists, but unlike a smart card, the slots at Montecasino give out tickets for wins rather than simply adding credit to a card. Howell runs a fairly traditional command structure. He has two deputies for gaming and non- gaming, plus the usual HR, IT and other back- room staff. Managing the 1,300 direct and outsourced staff and liaising with the 87 tenants of the centre is a team of 18 managers. It's their job to create the stream of ideas which keep the name fresh in people's minds. " It doesn't matter how outlandish the idea," says Howell. " We've had everything from Ferrari days to people dining on a platform, dangling 60 metres in the air on the end of a crane. There is such a lot of competition from other sources- particularly sport- that we need novel ideas all the time. Fortunately, we have plenty of spare space on the site, so we can build what we like." Although Montecasino is feeling the pinch of the recession like many other businesses, Howell is determined not to lower the standards that customers have come to expect. " People come here for a little escapism. So however difficult life might be outside, we want them to know that inside Montecasino it's business as usual. We could cut costs and keep a healthier bottom line, but we're taking the long view on the recession." Definitely not like the old days. - Editorial research by Don Campbell

98 www. bus- ex. com July 09 thegoldengoose Takingcareof