The man who would become an icon in the UK gambling space, Jimmy Thomas, passed away over the weekend. Already a seasoned veteran in the industry, he opened the Hippodrome Casino in London in 2012, turning it into the gambling property others dreamt of becoming.
Jimmy Thomas (L), Victoria Coren and Simon Thomas at the launch of the European Poker Tour at the Hippodrome Casino in London in 2014. Jimmy Thomas, the casino’s co-founder, passed away over the weekend. (Image: Getty Images)
Thomas was 88 years old when he passed away on Saturday. His death follows a brief illness and came before he could witness the completion of the latest upgrades the Hippodrome plans.
The gaming industry pioneer had hospitality in his blood. His family had long been part of the gaming industry, and Thomas carried on the family tradition. He opened his first casino at just 22 years of age, and the rest is history.
Jimmy Thomas Leaves His Mark
Thomas launched a number of gaming properties in the UK in his lifetime. However, the La Ronde Casino & Cabaret Club in Loughborough, where he was born, was probably the most recognizable until the arrival of the Hippodrome in 2012.
However, Thomas was much more than a casino entrepreneur. He used his status in the industry to expand vertically and horizontally, creating an amusement and leisure supply company, Thomas Automatics Co Ltd, and others.
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,” said Simon Thomas.
Eventually, after 30-40 years of operations, many of the entities he created were purchased by The Rank Organization. Others were spun off into a new business. It wasn’t long after that Thomas began looking for a spot for a casino. He then found his target.
The Hippodrome had been a building in operation for almost 100 years, and turning it into a casino seemed like the perfect solution to Thomas. He enlisted the help of his son to get the property off the ground, and the Hippodrome began earning its place with both local and international gamblers.
A Hall of Honors
Thomas received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Casino Association in 2013 for everything he had done for the industry. He was also the first person to be recognized at the British Amusement Catering Trade Association (Bacta) Wall of Fame.
Thomas also received another Lifetime Achievement award at the British Casino Awards in 2019. In addition, he served as the VP and chairman of the Bacta Charitable Trust.
The entrepreneur celebrated his 88th Birthday at the Hippodrome Casino this past March. He is survived by his son, Simon, and his two daughters, Lisa and Carla. However, his first wife Alma died in 2008. Thomas also leaves behind Jordan, a son from his second marriage, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
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