‘Aberdeen city centre imploding’ as Soul Casino closes down

Soul Casino
Soul Casino

A bar operator today said the city centre was “imploding” as a shut down – with bosses blaming an increase in venues opening later and high business rates.

Owner of Epic Group Mike Wilson made the comments after Granite Rock Casino Ltd announced that Soul Casino on Union Street had closed.

A number of reasons have been cited for the decision, including high business rates and the increase in the number of different venues now open until late.

Proposals to allow pubs to stay open to 3am were approved by the city’s licensing board last year.

Mr Wilson, whose firm operates nightclubs in the city, said a number of late night entertainment bosses hoped to meet to discuss the issue with the night-time economy manager.

He said: “The whole of the city centre is imploding. There’s a standstill in investment. There’s no thought process going through the granting of 3am licences.

“There’s a lot to be said, but no one is listening. The shift in times has been catastrophic.”

The closure of Soul Casino was announced yesterday by Granite Rock Casino Ltd with a “heavy heart”.

A statement said: “We are proud to have operated Scotland’s only independent, family-owned casino for over 12 years, and this decision was not made lightly.

“The closure comes following a shift in late night entertainment culture in the city, which has seen a significant drop in footfall to the casino. In addition, the overall economic climate in Aberdeen, coupled with high business rates, has unfortunately made trading no longer sustainable. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the long-serving management and staff for their hard work over the years, and for their recent efforts to keep Soul Casino trading.”

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Meanwhile, Tony Cochrane, owner of Club Tropicana and Private Eyes, also called for a review of the granting of late licences.

He said: “The closure of Soul Casino just reiterates what all of the late night operators said before. I have heard whispers that there might be more. Now the licencing board need to go back to the drawing board, because the system isn’t working.”

Nicola Johnston, Aberdeen Inspired’s evening and night-time economy manager, said: “It is sad to see a long-established business like Soul Casino close, particularly with the impact on staff and our thoughts are with all affected. It is a challenging operating environment for the evening and night-time economy both here and in many other city centres across the country.

“We look to stimulate our local scene through award-winning initiatives such as Aberdeen Restaurant Week and Inspired Nights On The Green, but realise there is still much to do.”

Douglas Lumsden, Aberdeen City Council co-leader, said: “It is very unfortunate to see another local business close with high business rates in the city being a critical factor.”