Bally’s Casino Bally’s Las Vegas-style casino is branded on Casyret, The Sands Hotel and Casino has just shut its doors for the last time. Photograph: David Livingston/Getty Images
And now for something completely different … it was just two weeks ago that a former prime minister from the Republic of Ireland named Bertie Ahern and his son, John Ahern, drove through the Ballybunion streets to attend the official handover of the new casino to the Parachute Regiment.
While Bertie and John bussed around locals and company chiefs in their limousines, the Ballybunion people were just three miles away, in their tractors and rigs, tramping round the track to see what awaited them. Unimpressed, they ceremoniously butchered the racketeers of The Sands Hotel and Casino. Finally they hacked into the facade of the casino and turned over the tables at 5am.
Most of the professional gaming staff on the island of Ireland had travelled to The Sands to work on a new gaming project, Tropicana, that was going to be built right next door at the introduction of massive investments in new casino gaming at Celtic Manor. But Irish investors pulled out of the project, having seen the success of an integrated casino complex in Las Vegas and the concept becoming popular all over the world.
The Lotus precinct at The Sands Hotel is going to be the next destination for Scotland’s and Ireland’s rich. But do you fancy entering that dimension?
But despite being closed for two weeks, the Slieve League casino is already in business and just like the passing of The Sands Hotel and Casino (but not the Daily Express in the adjoining building), Bally’s has an element of coming back home. “The arrival of the Ballybunion casino has changed the dynamics here as these are the first new games in Ireland for years,” says Ballybunion city councillor Robin Gorman. “The fact that four others have already been completed in Carrickfergus, Navan, Tuam and Newry will provide a wealth of experience and will increase the stakes for the other new entrants, like The Sands Hotel and Casino, and the likes of the Isle of Man. I would not be surprised to see bingo in the future – it’s a winner in any city.”
Perhaps politicians in Ballybunion might be advised to add their faces to the big screen, along with Bertie and John, as the two men shared a casino game of ultimate riddle a few days ago and, you know, that was fun.
Ahern’s son John was sold about the prospects of the casino in Ballybunion. Photograph: David Livingston/Getty Images