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Sat, Feb 16, 2008

Hit Me! Airbus Considers A380 Casino

But Declined To Give Odds On EOS

When you visit Las Vegas, it's overwhelming to see the money spent on the hotels and casinos there. Floating casinos on cruise ships have been with us for years, and the game of poker was invented on a Mississippi riverboat over a century ago.

So, it should come as no surprise that Airbus claims continued interest in turning the A380, the world's largest airliner, into a flying casino. The planemaker touted onboard gaming opportunities when the superjumbo was first unveiled... but airlines expressed little serious interest, since gaming tables take up valuable floor space that could hold high-density seating.

But that may be changing -- especially when it comes to outfitting the private "Flying Palace" version of the plane.

"We have had interests from customers who would like to do something like (casinos)," said David Velupillai, marketing director for Airbus's executive and private aviation division, to Agence-France Presse. "We had discussions with several customers about it."

After all, the A380 has 50 percent more floor space than a Boeing 747, and has already pulled in over 200 firm orders -- many from areas of Asia where economies, and gambling, are now booming. In fact, gaming revenues from the southern Chinese territory of Macau have already overtaken the Las Vegas Strip, and may surpass those of the greater Las Vegas region in 2008. Singapore will also open its first casino next year.

So -- assuming engineers can solve the problems posed by roulette wheels that move when the plane turns, or dice which take an extra hop going through turbulence -- how soon might we see an A380 filled with gaudy carpets, scantily-clad hostesses and rows of mesmerized senior citizens staring at slot machines?

Airbus says the first A380 flying casino could enter service in 2012... but, perhaps having learned its lesson from past A380 delays, it declined to give odds.

FMI: www.airbus.com

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