Having reopened in June, following a two year closure due to flood damage, the Bad Neuenahr casino has now held its official grand opening at its new and historic station building in Bad Neuenahr.
Since the end of June, guests have been able to experience roulette, blackjack and slot machine games live again in the casino. The management of the casino opted to start with a soft opening to give the employees a few days to get used to the new rooms, workflows and techniques, but from the first minute a sustained rush of visitors began, as if there had never been an interruption of operations.
At the official presentation of the casino on July 20, Michael Seegert, Managing Partner of Spielbank Bad Neuenahr GmbH & Co. KG, welcomeed representatives of the city as well as invited guests from politics, business and authorities.
Mr. 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?”
After taking stock, the casino came to the conclusion that the location of the Kurhaus directly on the Ahr was a major risk factor and with the information of the insurance company that the future maximum compensation in the event of flooding would be reduced by half.
“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,” Mr. 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.”
A total of 12 conceivable locations were examined with regard to the special requirements and their feasibility with the result that under the given circumstances the historic station building fulfilled many of the criteria, even if a willingness to compromise was required due to the limited space available in the building. The central and attractive location outside the flood plain with excellent bus and train connections ultimately convinced the decision-makers to prepare the representative and imposing station building from 1879 as a new home for the casino.
“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,” Mr. Seegert added. “That’s why we are particularly happy and proud to have a new casino in Bad Neuenahr just two years after the destruction.”
Now the roulette ball rolls every day at the new location with two American roulette tables, two blackjack tables and around 75 cutting-edge slot machines.
“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,” Mr. Seegert added.
He expressed his special thanks to all those involved, especially the project management, the architects and engineers, the city administration, the licensing authorities, the owner, the companies involved and, last but not least, the dedicated employees who have made the opening of the casino possible over the past months with the ‘highest level of commitment and a lot of heart and soul.’