The boss of a Bradford casino which is celebrating its 30th anniversary has warned that the city is in danger of losing its night life due to the lack of development.

Ray Smith, general manager of Napoleon’s in Bolton Road, said although business was good, more customers were looking to Leeds for entertainment venues due to the lack of progress on Bradford’s regeneration – particularly the Westfield “hole in the ground”.

He said: “We have survived for 30 years and continue to do OK, but I’ve noticed more of our members using the Leeds casino. The current state of things in Bradford is not attractive and the longer the delays on development the worse it will get.”

Mr Smith, who began his career with Mecca, said Napoleon’s owners were committed to Bradford but wanted to see the city improve as quickly as possible.

Napoleons is still going strong in an economic climate which last week saw one of its posh counterparts in London’s Mayfair, 50 St James’, close its doors due to the recession.

The gambling emporium, part of a Sheffield-based group owned by the Allen family, has been celebrating the milestone with a range of special events such as cabaret nights and charity fundraising, with Bradford’s Lord Mayor joining punters for one event.

The Bradford casino has benefited from a surge of interest in poker, stimulated partly by regular TV coverage of games.

It regularly hosts competitions where hopefuls test their skills and luck for ever increasing stakes as the best cardsharps reach the finals.

Mr Smith said poker contests attracted players from far and wide and Napoleon’s Bradford had become established as a leading venue.

The casino employs around 85 full time and part-time staff and the industry remained a popular career choice. More than 70 people recently applied for ten places at the casino’s training school to learn to become croupiers.

Mr Smith said: “Working in a casino offers an attractive option for many people, especially those who are good mixers.

“People don’t need a string of qualifications and full training is provided over a period of a few weeks.”

Mr Smith said recent changes in gambling legislation had enabled more people to experience casinos and feel comfortable about having a bet.

Mr Smith – not a gambler himself – said Napoleon’s restaurant continued to be a major draw, with diners finishing their visit with a modest flutter.

He said: “ Of course, we have serious gamblers, but for many people going to a casino is a bit of a novelty and ending an evening with a go at the tables makes it a special occasion. Business has held up well during the recession.

“After all people need some fun and a release from the pressures of every day life. – but we have noticed that gamblers are spending less. Our clientele is diverse and retaining the membership element makes people feel they belong.”