Casino Kursaal Ostend to get Belgium’s largest concert hall

Casino Kursaal Ostend to get Belgium’s largest concert hall

Major work on the auditorium will begin in October.

Belgium.- Casino Kursaal Ostend is to undertake a €25m revamp of its auditorium to increase capacity. The move will make it the largest adjustable concert hall in the country.

Starting in October, the project will install mechanical elevators at the seaside venue’s most important hall. A mechanism will allow seating to be removed and the floor to be made level with the stage in order to create a larger surface and increase the maximum capacity from 2,000 to 3,000.

Mayor Bart Tommelein said: “In the first place, this will allow us to organise much larger concerts for a standing audience of up to 3,000 people. But we can also hold large banquets or conferences in the hall. If we level the stage and floor, they will be at the height of the large windows that open onto the beach, which will give you a beautiful sea view.”

Some €9m of the cost will be borne by the Flemish government. The building’s owner NV EKO will provide €4m and the operator €11.5m

“The investment is substantial,” Tommelein said. “But the Kursaal, with its auditorium, is an important economic motor for our city. Every year we welcome over a quarter of a million visitors to our magnificent auditorium. We want to raise that figure to 330,000 people a year. When you know that 60 per cent of these visitors have a meal in a restaurant before or after the show and 30 per cent book an overnight stay in the area, you realise why this investment is so important to us.”

The rest of the venue will remain open during the construction work, including the Bwin-branded gaming operation, which has been run by Jurgen De Munck’s Infiniti since August 2021, when it took over the concession from Partouche. The operator has a 15-year concession until  2036. The goal is for the work to be completed by August 2026 for a launch the following month.

In March, the Belgian gambling regulator, Kansspelcommissie, confirmed that it will go ahead with the implementation of a proposed increase in the minimum age for gambling. The legal gambling age in Belgium will rise from 18 to 21 from September 1.

Belgium already applied an over 21 age requirement for land-based casinos and arcades, but the restriction will now be expanded to all forms of gambling. To date, Greece is the only EU country with a minimum age of 21 for both online and land-based gambling.

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