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Casino Kiel: No Jacket Required

Ambassador of a port city, Casino Kiel celebrates 25 years of entertainment. An interview with Tilo Schwonbeck, Director, Casino Kiel

Voyagers to Kiel, Germany, can find a welcome at the city’s eponymous casino. Opened in 1998, it offers a modest but widely varied repertory of gambling, as well as other amenities. The dress code is described as “upscale leisure,” not requiring that players wear jackets, let alone ties. (However, the casino will lend you such attire if you feel the need for it.)
The casino’s lounge is another heavy draw, especially for those who want to eschew gambling but still have a glass of wine or other libation in an elegant setting.
Unlike many Anglophilic casinos, that in Kiel is not given to round-the-clock play. Casino Kiel shuts down in the wee hours of the morning and does not open until 10 a.m. on weekdays—much later on Sundays. Its oversight is the province of Director Tilo Schwonbeck, a man who has worked his way up from being a croupier to the head of one of Germany’s leading casinos. He spoke with Casino Life Publisher Peter White shortly after the party, October 2023. The interview has been edited for clarity.
Can we begin with an outline of the history of Kiel Casino? When did it open and how has it evolved over the decades to the present day?

With the reorganization of gambling in 1998, state-owned casinos were opened to protect players. The state of Schlewig-Holstein wanted to manage gambling on its own and decided to have its own casino in the state capital. Casino Kiel was opened on October 2, 1998. Kiel Casino recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. As a guest, I found it an enjoyable evening that involved a flying buffet, live music from Kiel singer Yonatan Pandelaki and extra games with lots of prizes. Kiel is a busy port with both tourist and cargo shipping, with the casino’s location ideally located.

Image: Singer Yonatan Pandelaki 

How does the casino cater for cruise-liner passengers and other tourists?
This answer may surprise you. One might assume that as a casino we benefit from the many cruise tourists. However, it is not the tourists who visit us. It is the people who work in the port or on the ships. They come by after the party, relax at our bar or play.
How many slot machines does the casino provide? Can you tell us about the variety of machines offered at the casino as well as multiplayer roulette?
At Casino Kiel we offer 68 slot machines and 11 stations of multiplayer roulette, split between smoking and non-smoking areas in the slot machine hall. There is a large selection of different manufacturers: Novomatic, Merkur, Aristocrat, plus two jackpot systems. We also have four American roulette tables, two blackjack tables and five poker tables for tournaments on site.
What types of table games are most popular?

American roulette, blackjack, cash games and tournaments in the Texas Hold ‘Em version. Everything is very popular. Please tell our readers a bit more about yourself and your role. I started at Casino Kiel in 2002. At first I worked as a croupier. I really enjoyed being close to the guests. Nevertheless, at some point I wanted to make a change. I have been director of Casino Kiel since 2021. My main tasks include the back office, as well  as contact with employees and guests. Ultimately, it's about me, like all my colleagues, making sure that everything in the casino runs smoothly and that everyone feels comfortable.


Image: Tilo Schwonbeck, Director, Casino Kiel

How has 2023 been and what is the outlook for the remainder of the year looking?

It looks like it will be the best year on record. Of course we are very happy about that!
The light level of the ambient lighting in the casino is subtle yet creates very effective environment for those in groups or visiting on their own.

We concentrate on the games with the light. The lighting concept contributes to a calm atmosphere and thus enables concentration on the game.


Kiel Casino provides visitors an impressive bar area and entertainment, along with good quality food and high quality customer service. The casino is also involved with its local community with sponsorships of local football team Holstein Kiel.
It is important to us as a casino to get into the middle of society and survive there. Being anchored in the middle of society is fundamental for us as a down-to-earth casino. This connection to society becomes clear through our activities in local sports, whether it’s football, handball or soon American football. We value the local appeal. Apart from this commitment, it is always important to us that the customer, our guest, feels comfortable in the casino, even when not playing. This is not the only reason why we attach great importance to the training of our employees and continually develop them further.

What aspects of your role do you find most satisfying?
I enjoy working with my team. I enjoy working with this excellent team. This is fun for me and drives me.
In your career, what would you consider to be the highlights up to now?
The 25th anniversary celebrations were definitely a highlight and very special.
Image: Left to right: Peter White, Publisher, Casino LIfe and Jasmin Pierstorff, Marketing Manager, Spielbank SH GmbH
What kind of acts perform at Kiel Casino? Are the performers local or national or even international?
We love working with local artists and also give talented young ones a chance if they inspire us. That just suits us and our credo: The main thing is good entertainment.
Does the casino provide patrons poker tournaments?
Yes. Fördedeepstack took place in November. Tickets for the tournament sold out immediately. We offer such poker tournaments four to five times a year.
Does the casino have a players’ club? Please tell our readers how you have it structured to help and benefit your casino players.
We don't want to advantage anyone or disadvantage anyone. With us, every guest is a guest of honor! We don’t want VIPs, no elite.
Finally, when you are not at work – how do you relax?
By playing football and watching Holstein Kiel.
Peter White would like to especially thank Jasmin Pierstorff, along with management and staff for the generosity of hospitality provided to him during his visit to the very enjoyable Casino Kiel.
*** This exclusive feature interview was originally published in December 2023 edition of Casino Life Magazine Issue 162***