Hoera! Holland Casino Scheveningen has been in existence for 40 years.
On Thursday, October 4, 1979, the first players are allowed to enter the casino in the seaside resort under the smoke of The Hague, at 2 p.m.
This makes it the third gambling establishment in the history of Holland Casino, after Zandvoort (1976) and Valkenburg (1977).
Scheveningen: the second casino on the beach
Is it logical to set up a Holland Casino in Scheveningen in the late 1970s? Yes and no.
Yes, because the seaside resorts in the Netherlands at that time still attract a fair number of domestic and foreign tourists – and not just German ones.
No, because mass tourism is gradually coming to much more sun-sure Spain. And also because Scheveningen as a seaside resort is somewhat in decline.
"Scheveningen has no chance without a casino!"
The city council of The Hague is lobbying firmly to get the third Holland Casino within the municipal boundaries.
In those years, the soul-dying Scheveningen is gradually being converted into a "Torremolinos on the North Sea coast". Yes, that is still a recommendation in the 1970s.
To this end, an impressive bowling hall, a brand-new mega cinema and a sub-tropical swimming pool with water slides are planned, plus a gigantic indoor shopping mall – which will hurt your eyes in 2019.
A new casino building is missing in the plans, despite the construction fury of the municipal administration. The play palace has to go to the sophisticated Kurhaus hotel, where a renovation of many millions is in the pipeline. The casino can easily be incorporated in the building plans.
Anthony Adama Zijlstra, the former director of the Kurhaus, lends a hand. He goes to De Telegraaf and has large chocolate letters to write: "Scheveningen has no chance without a casino!"
The lobby is successful, because the Ministry of Economic Affairs decides that a second play palace may be built on the Dutch coast.
"The most beautiful casino in Northwest Europe"
And that works out nicely. Not only does Scheveningen urgently need a casino to give the coastal town a new lease of life. Holland Casino is also urgently in need of a new location.
Soon after the opening of the casino in Zandvoort, Holland Casino proves to be extremely popular. Almost too popular.
De Telegraaf headlines, again in chocolate letters, on 5 February 1977:
"GOKLUST VAN NEDERLANDERS EXCEEDS ALL EXPECTATIONS
The casino in Zandvoort is by far the most visited of all four hundred casinos in Europe! On average about a thousand visitors come every day.
But the big hit is yet to come. That is the third casino in the Scheveningen Kurhaus, which is being restored on a large scale.
Director Nico de Rooy: "We have all done it all wrong if Scheveningen does not become the most beautiful casino in North-West Europe. This must become the international first casino in the Netherlands.
The casino in the Kurhaus will soon have room for around 550 staff members, 24 roulette tables will be gathered in the gaming room, the same number as in Zandvoort and Valkenburg. We expect that we will be able to run in Scheveningen at the end of next year, at the beginning of 1979. "
Establishment of more than 20 million
The opening is delayed a bit, because Holland Casino really pulls out all the stops to give grandeur to the play palace in Scheveningen.
The interior is designed by none other than the famous architect Cees Dam. Costs: more than 20 million guilders (more than € 9 million converted). That's possible, according to Holland Casino, because management counts on 1100 guests a day.
Enough to earn back such an expensive interior, even though the bets in the new casino will be relatively modest. With roulette and blackjack, the maximum bet will soon be 250 guilders (converted to € 113.45).
"If we go higher, a club of Arabs will destroy the entire casino in one evening and that cannot be the intention," explains Holland Casino director Nico de Rooy in De Telegraaf.
Immediately a great success
Casino Scheveningen finally opens on 4 October 1979. Mayor Frans Schols performs the official opening by giving the first spin to the roulette.
Immediately after opening, the new gambling branch is a huge success. The newspaper Het Vrije Volk reports:
"CASINO PRESS VISITED IN SCHEVENINGEN
In the first days of its existence, the casino in Scheveningen attracted many more visitors than expected. The casino management counted 1500 to 2000 gamblers a day, but on Saturday and Sunday a total of 5000 interested people came.
The casino in Zandvoort expected that the number of visitors to the playhouse in Scheveningen would decrease by 30 percent. That was not too bad: "Zandvoort" had 15 percent fewer visitors than usual.
An opinion poll among visitors to the casino in Scheveningen showed that 87 percent had a favorable opinion of the company. Ten percent of the players thought it was too busy in the Kurhaus in Scheveningen. ”
Fraud in Holland Casino Scheveningen
But the start time of Holland Casino Scheveningen is not all hosanna. Soon the casino is in the news because of the smell of fraud. This is not only committed by players, but also by the staff.
On 5 February 1981, Het Parool headlines, for the occasion also in chocolate letters:
"A QUARTER OF MILLION MILLION GULDED
Casino Scheveningen suspends 29 employees after fraud
At Scheveningen casino, 29 employees have been suspended with immediate effect due to fraud. A declaration of misappropriation of 250,000 guilders was reported to the Hague police.
Croupiers are sometimes suspected by their employer of having paid double amounts at the gaming tables to players with whom they conspired.
They would also have awarded prize money to people who were not entitled to it.
How many players are involved in this, the management of the National Casino Games Foundation did not want to state this morning in the interest of further investigation. The fraud was discovered by the company's own security service. "
This is painful, especially since a year earlier, in September 1980, seven employees were arrested. Among them a table chef, a room manager, a croupier and a manager.
They are suspected of deducting amounts from the daily final bill together with cash register staff. They put the difference, 35,000 guilders, in their own pocket. Talk about a jackpot.
Refused at the door due to crowds
In terms of turnover and popularity, Holland Casino Scheveningen is doing very well for a long time. So excellent that the gambling palace sometimes has to refuse people at the door during the weekend.
De Volkskrant in 1984:
"Casinos attracted a record number of visitors last year
The three Dutch casinos managed to attract a record number of visitors within their doors in 1983. In total, previous 1.16 million people visited a casino, which was eleven percent more than in the previous year.
On average, visitors spent 117 guilders one guilder more on drinks, entrance fees, tips and the gambling game than in 1982. The gross proceeds increased by 3.1 million guilders to 21.2 million guilders, according to the National Casino Games Foundation. annual report.
According to the annual report, the casino in Scheveningen is especially popular. Last year 60 thousand more people came there. In fact, the number of visitors during the weekends is so large that the maximum capacity of the rooms is increasingly being reached. "
That is why Holland Casinos is expanding in the following years. No longer in seaside resorts or in a tourist village in Limburg, but in the big cities. Holland Casino Rotterdam opened in 1985. Holland Casino Amsterdam follows a year later.
And then … it suddenly goes less well.
Illegal casinos hijack players
Although Holland Casino is getting bigger, the revenue is getting smaller. And to make matters worse, fewer and fewer visitors are coming.
The Free People writes in 1986: "Last year the legal casinos saw the number of visitors decrease by ten percent. The hardest hit was in Scheveningen: a decline of no less than 70,000 visitors. "
How is that possible? Illegal casinos hijack quite a bit of customers at Holland Casino, with the roulette variant Golden Ten.
Golden Ten counts as the "roulette game for the little man". Because the minimum bets are lower at Golden Ten. Drinks are free in the illegal gambling dens.
In addition, losers get a part of their stake back, the so-called "kitten." Usually that is about ten percent of the lost amount.
In addition, Golden Ten casinos do not have a strict dress code.
To turn the tide, Holland Casino comes with its own low-threshold roulette game: Twin Roulette. And the dress code is becoming less strict.
A hellish explosion of 200 slot machines
But by far the most is expected from something totally new: slot machines in Holland Casino.
The Free People report in October 1986:
"Slot machine youngest weapon casinos against illegal gambling houses
The old, elegant Kurhaus in Scheveningen, brothel red with a chic and mundane sauce is built on a bomb. Above that there is an atmosphere of subdued tension, where impeccably black-and-white croupiers do their work civilized at the roulette.
But below, "the bomb" awaits: a hellish explosion of 200 slot machines can erupt any moment in the catacombs of the Kurhaus.
Slot machines are the youngest weapon of the legal casinos against the illegal gambling houses. Scheveningen and Rotterdam (56 machines) are eagerly awaiting a change in the law on gambling. Because then the machines can pay out money.
Soon, so is the general expectation, ringing in sounding currency that returns from the device. And in the Jackpot club of the legal casino it will soon not only be possible to play with quarters, but also with state goers. With this, the legal casinos have to get the customers back, which they have lost by thousands in the last few years to their illegal competitors.
The slot machines, roulette and card games, complete with the real sound of playing cards being shuffled, must turn the tide at the sophisticated casinos. Claeys Deputy Director in Scheveningen:
"I expect a completely different audience down here than up there, although we have already relaxed the dress code."
A tie is no longer mandatory, gentlemen in sweaters and spencers – fluent, but civilized – move between the ladies who are not dressed too well. ”
"Take Las Vegas to Scheveningen"
The new direction is going to be a resounding success. In 1987 a real profit explosion took place, from around ten million guilders in the previous year to 53.1 million guilders.
Visitor numbers continue to grow. In the early nineties it is (again) often so busy at Holland Casino Scheveningen that it is crowding around the machines and the gaming tables. During the weekend there is no parking space in the entire resort anymore.
That is why there should be a larger casino, says the board of Holland Casino.
This time it will be a gambling palace that stands on its own, with an indoor parking garage. It will be diagonally opposite the Kurhaus.
The architect is Pi de Bruijn, who receives only one assignment from Holland Casino: "Take Las Vegas to Scheveningen." Budget: 80 million guilders (more than € 36 million converted).
"Clearly a gambling palace"
The new Holland Casino Scheveningen is ready at the end of 1995. The festive opening is on Friday 15 December.
NRC Handelsblad journalist Bernard Hulsman takes a look in early 1996 in the brand new play palace. He thinks it is successful:
"Gambling in a neon-lit boat by the sea
Pi de Bruijn brought Las Vegas to the Netherlands. It is the first casino with a clear theme – sea, beach, boats, water – and it is designed much more exuberantly than the already existing casinos of the Holland Casino Foundation.
For example, the casino in Amsterdam could just as easily pass for a cinema or theater, which in Scheveningen clearly presents itself as a gambling palace.
Just like the casinos in America, the building makes a closed impression, but it has received an over-proportioned entrance: where the two facades meet on the corner of the street, De Bruijn has made a huge gate-shaped cut that sucks visitors in.
In the evening, when it is dark, it is even clearer where the gamblers should be. Then the building changes thanks to the colored neon tubes on the facade into a true light palace.
During the day, it is two carefully applied waves in the façade that create an elegance appropriate to a seaside resort. "
Holland Casino Scheveningen in the 21st century
That elegant new casino attracts a lot of new audiences. At the end of the 1990s, Holland Casino Scheveningen became the second largest site in the Netherlands in terms of visitor numbers, after Amsterdam but before Rotterdam. In the year 2000, 778,000 people walked through the front door.
In 2001, the Holland Casino management decided to purchase the property. Until then it was rented. The purchase price is 20 million euros.
Immediately after the purchase, a rigorous renovation and expansion starts. Around 150 slot machines and nine gaming tables will be added.
In 2004 one of the gaming tables introduced a brand new game for the Netherlands: Three Card Poker.
The following years are golden years for all Holland Casinos and therefore also for the Scheveningen location. At the peak in 2007, the casino attracts 873,000 visitors. That is almost 2400 a day.
From 2008 onwards, the visit and the turnover decreased somewhat due to the economic crisis. But unlike, for example, Holland Casino Nijmegen, the casino in Scheveningen continues to operate at a profit even in the worst years.
Scheveningen will have a great opportunity to go out
Holland Casino Scheveningen will be thoroughly renovated in 2011. As one of the first casinos, the site will be furnished according to the "Play Now concept". In Holland Casino's own words:
"The combination of play, dining, bar and music means that guests do not have to choose between an evening at the casino or a restaurant or club visit. With this we respond to the wishes of the contemporary nightlife audience. "
A great opportunity to go out.
Due to all those renovations, the casino in 2019 no longer looks the way Pi de Bruijn ever thought of it, except for the exterior.
And another renovation is coming, because at the end of this year, Holland Casino Scheveningen will have an Experience Zone, just like Utrecht, entirely focused on millennials.
See the history of Holland Casino Scheveningen for yourself
On the occasion of the anniversary there is a special open-air exhibition in Scheveningen with photos from the past 40 years.
A journey through time. From the opening in the Kurhaus in 1979, through the eighties and the construction of the new casino of Pi de Bruijn, to now.
The photos can be viewed by everyone free of charge on large billboards at Holland Casino Scheveningen, on the corner of Harstenhoekweg and Badhuisweg, until October 4.
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