German gamblers take great pride in their local gaming establishments much like some online gamblers have a favorite “home” website, but much more so. The operators and local officials do too, and they aren't shy about showing that devotion and affection for the venues. More than brand loyalty, the connection is personal.
The spa town of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler is no exception to that rule as can be seen when looking at the recent opening of Spielbank Bad Neuenahr in a new location after a major disaster took the beloved local and regional gambling hall away.
The Night the House Edge was Not Enough
200 people died in Germany and Belgium 2 years ago in a historic flood. Damage to the local casino was so severe, and the insurance coverage to re-open in the same location would only provide about half of what it had for the prior calamity, so officials decided to never rebuild the 7-decades-old casino in the same location.
As described by Weather.com, the water came overnight on July 14-15, 2021. It funneled through sometimes narrow and steep sections, taking with it homes, bridges and roads and leaving behind a mud-covered path of destruction. Some 3,000 of 4,200 buildings along the River Ahr were damaged.
The casino was situated directly on the river Arh.
Instead, they chose to convert a nearby historic train station with neo-gothic architecture into a new casino.
After a soft opening a little over three weeks ago that allowed dealers and new staff to become accustomed to their new digs, Spielbank Bad Neuenahr held an official grand opening for the small but competent gambling spot on July 20, 2023.
During the official opening ceremonies, Michael Seegert, Managing Partner of Spielbank Bad Neuenahr GmbH & Co. KG welcomed local dignitaries and officials to the new location.
In his welcome message, Seegert said: “It's been a little more than two years since, like countless others in the Ahr Valley, suddenly nothing was the same for us overnight. Our administration building was completely destroyed and flooded and demolished shortly afterwards with all our historical files and documents from 73 years of company history.
“Our gaming facilities and the entire building services on the ground floor of the Kurhaus were smashed and the surroundings of the casino were devastated. The only pleasing aspect was that we did not have to mourn any victims due to the early closure of the casino. But the damage to property was immense and even the maximum compensation from the insurance company was not sufficient to compensate for all the damages. The question arose, so what should we do?”
Management looked at about a dozen nearby locations, and although they didn't find one with everything they wanted or needed, the team settled for a well-situated location with less space – which meant the number of games would have to be reduced, but all other qualities could be maintained and the historic casino could continue to offer the same level of top-tier service to local gamblers and others nearby who were die-hard fans.
Familiar Location for Most Customers
The train and bus station was already a well-known hub for travelers to the area with 5-star hotels, so footfall was expected to remain strong. This proved to be true as customer traffic from all around began right away during the soft opening and never really waned.
“We came to the only possible decision with the shareholders after difficult discussions that the future of the casino with these latent risks cannot lie in the Kurhaus,” Seegert added. “So, with a heavy heart, we gave up the traditional location and started looking for alternatives in Bad Neuenahr, in Ahrweiler, and in the surrounding area.”
“Since there were only very limited as-built plans from the construction period, we experienced many surprises during the renovation work, and the installation of an air conditioning system, in particular, was a huge challenge that caused us many a sleepless night,” added Seegert. “That's why we are particularly happy and proud to have a new casino in Bad Neuenahr just two years after the destruction.”
The new location holds about 75 slot machines, two blackjack tables, and two roulettes wheels. The prior location held 16,000 square feet of casino floor featuring 150 slots with 8 table games, and two restaurants.
“All in all, I am very pleased that with the reopening of the casino, we can contribute another piece of the mosaic on the arduous path of reconstruction in Bad Neuenahr and the return to the old attractiveness of the city and the region,” Seegert added.
Seegert praised each and every participant in the arduous venture of finding and preparing a new home for the venue, commending the ‘highest level of commitment and a lot of heart and soul,” shown by employees, project managers, architects, and engineers, city administrators and others.,
Source: Spielbank Bad Neuenahr holds official grand opening, G3 Newswire, July 25, 2023
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