Tired of boring long-haul flights? In the not so distant future, they could become a thing of the past. Since the 1980s, aviation companies have been toying with the idea of inflight games and essentially creating a casino airplane. However, for one reason or another, the concept never fully got off the ground. Years later, two French aviation design studios have come together to try and make flying casinos a reality. But what is a casino on a plane? In this article, we explore exactly that.
Casino Jet Lounge
Frédérique Houssard of Designescene and Jean-Pierre Alfano, the founder of AirJet Designs, have joined forces to develop their Casino Jet Lounge. This consists of a casino and a luxury bar on board an airplane, that could eventually become a standard feature of long-haul journeys. There are plans for the Casino Jet Lounge to have a luxury drinks area, trending seating and a variety of gambling tables.
According to Houssard, the pair are trying to bring back the glamour of the 50s and 60s and give passengers an authentic James Bond-like experience. While the concept is still relatively new, Alfano and Houssard are currently having discussions with airlines and believe their dream could become a reality in the near future.
History of gambling on airplanes
For some, a casino on a plane might seem futuristic. However, the concept has been around for quite some time. Gambling on airplanes first came about in 1981, when Singapore Airlines equipped its planes with custom slot machines. The machines were lightweight and built into the aisles of planes operating between Singapore and San Francisco. Unfortunately, the inflight games only lasted eight weeks before they were removed, with Singapore Airlines describing them as ‘an operational challenge’.
The idea of a casino airplane next popped up in the 1990s when Swissair decided to install inflight games. Their solution allowed passengers to bet up to $350 on a range of casino games, including blackjack, poker and keno. Swissair’s airplane casino games remained in operation until 1998, and various other airlines were reportedly showing interest in the idea. However, after an air crash involving a Swissair plane in 1998, inflight gambling didn’t seem like such a good idea. To the devastation of Swissair, an air crash investigator suggested that the problems caused were due to a fault in the in-flight entertainment system.
As time passed, airlines became open again to the idea of inflight games. In 2004, Ryanair announced that they planned to introduce light gambling through an inflight entertainment system. However, a few years went by, and nothing more was heard. Eventually, the company’s head of communications announced that they didn’t have the technology in place yet, but they still hoped to introduce inflight games in the future. When questioned, he further explained that the expense of the wi-fi technology required was holding them back. He also added that the company were waiting for the price of the equipment to drop.
Virgin Atlantic has also toyed with the idea of a casino on a plane to enhance the experience of long-haul flights. In 2005, the founder of Virgin Atlantic, Richard Branson, announced that a few of the new A380 aircrafts would be fitted with inflight games and double beds. However, a few years passed, and nothing more was heard about it. It became clear that Virgin had side-lined the idea when another spokesman admitted that the casino airplane concept had been ‘just an idea’. He explained that it was just another concept they’d thrown out there are they hadn’t got any further with it. However, the company declined to give a reason as to why they decided not to install inflight games in their A380 aircrafts.
While a casino on a plane seems like a great idea, there’s more to it than funding the initial installation. As well as fitting all the machines, airlines would need to fork out for inflight wi-fi that could be relied on throughout the journey. Back then, that wasn’t easy to come by.
Today, there are new wi-fi related challenges for casino airplanes. Now wi-fi access is becoming more common on commercial flights, passengers can access mobile casinos from their own smartphone or tablet. With this in mind, installing costly inflight games may not be a worthwhile investment.
That being said, some aviation companies have plans to address this issue. Ryanair plans to provide ‘closed-loop’ wi-fi so that passengers are forced to use the inflight games if they fancy testing their luck. Houssard and Alfano haven’t commented on this issue directly but have made it clear that they don’t see online gambling as a threat to their Casino Jet Lounge. While Ryanair aims to install casino games as a way for passengers to pass the time, the Casino Jet Lounge is more than that. Alfano explains that the concept is more of a social space, where passengers can enjoy a luxury experience with a Vesper Martini and a game of Baccarat.
Are boring flights a thing of the past?
I’m sure all gamblers would agree that a casino on a plane sounds like a stellar idea. While there has been snags and hold-ups in the past, Houssard and Alfano are giving us hope that flying gambling can soon become a reality. If the concept takes off, it won’t be long before you can enjoy your favourite slots or table game in the air, with a drink in hand.
However, the Casino Jet Lounge is still in the initial stages so you can’t enjoy the luxury experience just yet. Thankfully, gambling on airplanes is still possible with NetBet online casino. If your aircraft has a wi-fi system, you can play your favourite casino games on our mobile casino. Simply register today to get started.