Patrick Noakes has landed a top job at the city’s new £30m super casino and knows just what to do when the chips are down. He speaks to Neil Hudson
Patrick Noakes has hit the jackpot after taking on one of the biggest jobs in the UK’s casino industry – right here in Leeds.
Patrick is taking the reins as Venue Director at the multi-million pound Victoria Gate Casino, which held its glittering VIP launch just last month.
But it’s not purely down to luck that he’s won one of the most sought-after jobs in the business. Patrick has spent 31 years working at casinos across the UK and abroad, overseeing venues from Yorkshire to Gibraltar.
“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,” he explains. “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.”
Patrick speaks from experience, as he worked for Gala Casinos for 13 years in a number of roles including managing director, and spent 10 years in a regional capacity that included casinos in Yorkshire.
Prior to working for Gala, he also held general manager and regional director roles at Ladbroke Casinos – even picking up the title of ‘Casino General Manager of Year’.
As Patrick proudly shows us around his new work place, his beaming smile says everything you need to know about his excitement for the role.
“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.”
The 50,000sq ft ‘super casino’ boasts two bars and a restaurant as well as a huge 100-player poker room, 24 gaming tables, 140 slot machines and 75 electronic gaming terminals; it’s no wonder that it’s now the third-largest casino in the UK, and the largest casino in the north of England and Scotland.
“It’s got all the glitz, glamour and excitement of the Las Vegas casinos, which you just wouldn’t imagine would be possible to replicate in the UK,” Patrick continues.
“People who walk through the doors for the first time are genuinely taken aback. 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.”
Now that the doors are open, it’s easy to forget just how long the process has taken to get a project of this kind and scale off the ground.
It’s been several years in the making, from the large casino licence being granted to finding the right location to employing the 200+ staff needed to fill the roles.
“We have been working on the project behind closed doors for so long. It was exciting to be a part of a huge project that was creating such a big buzz in the city, but when we finally opened to the public and shared it with everyone, that’s when it finally felt real, and like the vision had to come to life.
“It’s vastly different from what people might expect. There’s so much more to our offering than just gaming.
“In fact, we estimate that 50 per cent of our customers won’t even gamble here at all. Instead, they’ll be making the most of our fantastic bars and restaurants.”
The casino includes three distinct venues. Live Bar is perhaps the most eye-catching, featuring wall-to-wall, state-of-the-art screens, it shows almost every sport from American football to boxing.
Meanwhile Curve is on the other side of the casino – and for good reason, as Patrick explains.
“These two bars will cater for different tastes and customers. Live Bar is our sports bar whilst Curve is a cocktail, champagne and craft beer bar, partnered with Moët & Chandon.
“We’re also keen to put local produce on the menus wherever possible, and Curve has a rotating menu featuring beers from local breweries.”
Local produce is also the main feature at V Restaurant, which has an informal brasserie-style setting and uses locally-sourced ingredients to create everything from traditional home favourites to Pan-Asian cuisine.
“We’re working with well-respected local suppliers including Sykes House Farm near Wetherby, R Bethell – a 4th generation fishmongers at Leeds Kirkgate Market – and Guiseley-based fruit and vegetable supplier Threshfield. It’s all about quality – from the food to the service.”
Just in case you’re winning big on the casino floor and can’t peel yourself away for long enough to place your order at the bar, there’s also a table valet service.
It’s this kind of attention to detail that helps Victoria Gate Casino stand out from the crowd. But with just a handful of casinos left in Leeds nowadays, Patrick is keen to explain why he believes this one will stand the test of time.
“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.
“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.
“We hope to become a staple on the nightlife scene as well as the dining scene, and really feel like it’s a pivotal moment for Leeds to have an entertainment venue on such a grand scale.
“We can’t wait to welcome more people through the doors so they can see it for themselves.”
Pictured is Patrick Noakes Venue Director at Victoria Gate Casino, Leeds
Victoria Gate Casino in Numbers
30,000,000 – the amount of £s invested in the venue
432,000 – the number of beads used to decorate the venue. That’s about 32 kilometres of beads
50,000 – the square footage of the venue. That’s the size of approximately 18 tennis courts or about 4/5ths the size of the pitch at Elland Road.
5,000+ – the number of people who applied for jobs at the casino
205 – the number of full-time jobs created (90% sourced from the Leeds City Region)
140 – the number slot machines
100 – the number of players that can play a tournament in the poker room
21 – the number of 55-inch screens used to build the venue’s huge TV wall in Live Bar
82 – the number of other TV screens around the venue
75 – the number of electronic gaming terminals
29 – the number of cocktails on sale in Curve Bar
24 – the number of gaming tables
3 – the number of outdoor terraces
1.9 – the number of kilometres of carpet used to dress the venue. In weight, that’s just over 8 tonnes
For more information, visit www.victoriagatecasino.co.uk