HAMBURG | GERMANY
Casino Esplanade Spielbank Hamburg may close its doors
The Casino Esplanade, which resided in an impressive building on #10 Stephansplatz since 2006 in Hamburg, might soon be no more. Casino Esplanade is one of four locations of the Spielbank Hamburg. Janßen, spokesman for Jahr + Achterfeld GmbH & Co. KG, has admitted to the Hamburg Evening News (Hamburger Abendblatt) that “The current concession has a permit to operate until 31 December 2019 and will expire by the end of the year”. Jahr + Achterfeld GmbH & Co. KG is the investment company which manages Casino Hamburg.
Jahr + Achterfeld’s License Expires end of 2019
Jahr + Achterfeld GmbH & Co. KG has had a license to operate Casino Esplanade since 1977, including three of its other branches located in the Reeperbahn (Casino Reeperbahn), Mundburg (Casino Mundburg) and Steindamm (Casino Steindamm). The current concession is in fact an interim one that was awarded to Jahr + Achterfeld by the Interior Ministry in order to keep casino game play in operation without any interruptions until a new casino operator could be appointed.
There are only about 4 months left until the end of 2019. The future remains uncertain both for dedicated players as well as the approximately 300 persons employed with Casino Hamburg. Without a valid concession, the casino would be forced to close.
Tenders for Management of the Spielbank Hamburg Casinos
The Hamburg State Office had issued a Europe-wide call for tenders that called for the “operation of a public casino consisting of a main location and branches for the period from 1.1.2020 to 31.12.2034”. That deadline had ended on 27 June this year. The concession tender required that “Applicants must provide evidence that they are able to provide substantial financial resources to secure and operate the casino – a sum of no less than twelve million euros – and at the same time prove the source of funds. ”
According to the Hamburger Abendblatt, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry has stated that the award procedure was not yet completed. The Ministry gave no indication f a date for the award. The Ministry’s spokesman added that “The procurement process is running according to plan and according to legal requirements”.
Jahr + Achterfeld GmbH & Co. KG had participated in the tender. However, there is no indication whether any other interested parties had made any submissions and/or whether these proved to be any competition for Jahr + Achterfeld.
Late Tenders, Late Award?
According to the spokesman of the Interior Ministry: “… One of the goals of the Hamburg Casino Law (the Hamburgische Spielbankgesetz) is to channel the game play instinct of the population. The necessary revision of the casino law was still in the parliamentary voting process in 2016/2017, making a call for tenders at that time not possible.
Statement from the Ver.di Workers Union
The Ver.di Workers Union has expressed that the current situation is unpleasant for the employees. While the concession runs into its expiration date in just four months, employees still do not know where they stand. They needed urgent clarity to make informed decisions.
Discussing the possibility of another company winning the concession, Ira Gloe-Semler, the Country Manager Financial Services for Ver.di, has stated that it would be obvious that the business would have to be transferred. Experienced and qualified employees who have close customer loyalty would obviously be retained. However, there would be no guarantee that all jobs would be preserved.
History of Casino Esplanade – Casino Hamburg
Casino Esplanade, Casino Hamburg was the first casino that opened on the ninth floor in the luxury Hotel InterContinental in January of 1978. Hotel InterContinental was located on the beautiful shores of the Alster lake in the heart of the city where it kept a long tradition. The luxury hotel was eventually demolished and, The Fontenay, a member hotel of the ‘Leading Hotels of the World’ now stands in its place.