The founder of The Hippodrome Casino has died aged 88.
UK.- One of the pioneers of casinos in the UK has passed away. James ‘Jimmy’ Thomas, president and co-founder of The Hippodrome Casino in London, has died aged 188. Following a short illness, he passed away in his sleep on Saturday July 30 at the London Clinic with family members present.
Thomas was born in 1934 in Loughborough and attended Uppingham School in Leicestershire. Coming from a family that had been involved in leisure and gaming for seven generations, Thomas opened his first casino in 1956 at the Hurst Hotel in Quorn, Leicestershire. That was followed by casinos in Nottingham and Derby, and then the La Ronde Casino & Cabaret Club in Loughborough in 1965.
Thomas founded Thomas Automatics Co Ltd, which became a major international designer, manufacturer and supplier of amusement machines, exporting to 37 countries. He also founded Showboat Holdings Limited. That included Showboat Entertainment Centre Limited, which became the UK’s leading privately owned amusement centres group, and Beacon Entertainments, which ran bingo and social clubs.
After the sale of some assets to the The Rank Organisation in 1987 and a series of demergers, Thomas became CEO of Thomas Holdings Limited, with his sone Simon as MD. Thomas Estates (Showboat Amusement Centres) and Beacon Entertainments Limited (Beacon Bingo and Social Clubs) carried on running venues until selling up to Mayfair Acquisitions Co Limited in August 2006.
With the proceeds of the sale, the father and son launched the award-winning Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square in 2012. It became one of the best casinos in London and a pioneering venue that transformed the UK casino scene. Thomas celebrated his 88th birthday at the venue this year.
Thomas belonged to a range of industry bodies. He had a life membership of the British Amusement & Catering Trades Association (Bacta), serving as vice president and chairman of its charitable trust. He was the first person to be named to the Bacta Wall of Fame.
He was also a director of the European Amusement & Gaming Expo (EAGE) from its creation in May 2009. He received a lifetime achievement award from the Casino Association in 2013 and from the British Casino Awards in 2019.
Thomas leaves a son and two daughters, Simon, Lisa and Carla, from his first marriage and a son, Jordan, from his second marriage, as well as seven grandchildren and three step-grandchildren. His first wife, Alma, died in 2008.
Simon, Jimmy’s son and executive chairman of the Hippodrome said: “My father achieved enough for several lifetimes and was respected the world over for his business leadership and pioneering vision. I had the privilege of his advice and guidance not only as a business partner but as a son. He was one of a kind, and will be greatly missed by his family, many friends and staff members.”
Bacta appoints John Bollom as interim VP
The British Amusement Catering Trade Association (Bacta) has appointed John Bollom as its interim vice president. He replaces Trevor Sutton and will lead a review of Bacta’s governance structure.
Bollom is the managing director of Swansea’s Mumbles Entertainment Pier. Bacta said that Sutton has stepped down from the trade body to focus on external commitments. A review of the trade association’s governance structure is expected to be completed by March 2023.