In 2007, the Sefton Group acquired the Palace Hotel ♦ Casino complex.
The Palace Complex first began on this site in 1887 with the opening of what was then, the largest ballroom in Europe. The roof was damaged by fire in 1902 and subsequently repaired. In 1913 the ballroom was connected by a foot-bridge to the new 3500 seater Palace Coliseum Theatre.
Both were totally destroyed by fire in 1920, but were re-built in one year and five days – to be known as "The White Palace".
The Palace Coliseum Theatre was demolished in 1965 to make way for the existing Palace Hotel and Casino and the Palace Ballroom (later known as the Palace Lido) was demolished in 1994.
The Palace Opera House is now all that is left of the complex, now the Palace Cinema.
Britain's first public casino was licensed in Douglas in 1963 and opened in the Castle Mona Hotel. Gaming officially ceased at the Castle Mona at 5am on 6th May 1966 prior to its move to the purpose built Palace Hotel Casino. The official opening of the new casino was timed for that night so the concessionaires had approximately 12 hours to move the gaming tables and slot machines from the Castle Mona to the new purpose built premises.
The casino was opened by the then fictional super spy - 007 agent James Bond (Sean Connery) on 6th May 1966 with completion of the hotel the following year.
Super Spy Opens Casino (…as reported in the local news):
"Britain’s fictional super spy – 007 "licensed to kill" agent James Bond – opened the Island’s new casino on 6th May with the first spin of a roulette wheel. Bond, alias the film star Sean Connery, flew to the Island in between film engagements. As Bond he drives some of the most exotic cars imaginable. On the Isle of Man however, he travelled from the Sea Terminal to the casino in leisurely style – aboard a horse tram! An accompanying tram was packed with VIPs".
Manx gaming legislation provided for a second casino once the first was completed. This was proposed as a basis around which the Crescent Cinema could be redeveloped but when this failed to find favour the Palace Ballroom was licensed for gaming and became known as the Palace Lido with giant material "mushrooms" hung from the ornate ceiling and gold drapes around the walls to further improve acoustics. High class cabarets were the main attraction during the season with Sunday night appearances of such well known artistes as Frank Ifield, David Frost, Andie Stewart and Vince Hill. In the 1980s sophisticated high tech laser discos were introduced, but even this venture wasn’t enough to compensate for the steady loss of tourists. The place was too big for the number of customers available, even with the laser projected videos on to giant screens either side of the stage. The Lido closed in 1992 and the building demolished in 1994.
Cashing in memories of 007 opening Palace Casino
Published on Tue Aug 31 09:49:54 BST 2010
THE Examiner reported last week that the Hilton Hotel is going to revert to its original name, the Palace Hotel and Casino.
It doesn't make much difference to the likes of me. I've always called it the Palace Hotel and Casino and so have most of the other grizzled veterans of its old, long gone Round Bar.
The Examiner also said: "Sean Connery, at the height of his James Bond fame, officially opened the Palace Casino in 1966."
We – by which I mean the veterans – remember the occasion well. After all it was only, what? Nearly half-a-century ago?
Back in those days the Casino was run by the owners of the exclusive London gaming club Crockford’s in St James’. They invited Mr Connery – or Sean as he asked me to call him – to perform the official opening of the new gaming rooms in the Palace Hotel.
He was deep into filming You Only Live Twice at the time and they flew him into Ronaldsway in an executive jet after which he was taken into Douglas in a charabanc. All right, they're called coaches now. But I prefer chara.
Yes, it does sound like a bit of a comedown for one of the most famous men in the world. But he was not alone on the chara. It was full of other people, friends of the Crockford's directors and others, all eager to bask in the presence of 007.
They didn't include me. But I watched the chara leaving Ronaldsway with Sean peering anxiously and rather dazedly out of his window. He admitted later that he wasn't exactly sure where he was and what he was supposed to be doing.
Everybody got off the chara in Douglas and it was time to go to the Palace Hotel. They asked Sean to get on a horse tram, with the rest of the coach party. Nothing was too good for old Sean. Everybody was kitted out expensively for the opening ceremony in the gaming rooms, with Sean wearing a dinner jacket like nobody else could.
The Examiner had a photograph of him standing at a roulette table, making his speech, and being watched by a group of guests consisting almost exclusively of ladies with their eyes fixed upon him intently.
One of the few men with them was the Mayor of Douglas, Alderman Alec Moore who, suitably enough, had been the first man to propose that the Isle of Man should have a public casino like Continental countries, which would have been the first in the British Isles.
The critical moment in the ceremony was when Sean, the personification of the cool hand of the green baize tables, was to spin a roulette wheel and drop a little white ball into it like the croupiers do.Sean, cool hand, dropped it in and it bounced right out again and landed on the floor where it rolled away, lost forever. But 007 had completed yet another mission.
There could not have been a more suitable celebrity to open the new Isle of Man Casino than Sean Connery.
In the circumstances people might wonder whose brilliant idea it was to invite him in the first place. It was mine. Just thought I'd mention it.
Sir Thomas Sean Connery KBE (born 25 August 1930), more commonly known as Sean Connery, is a Scottish actor and producer who has won an Academy Award, two BAFTA Awards and three Golden Globes.
Connery has been polled as "The Greatest Living Scot," and was knighted in July 2000. In 1989, he was proclaimed "Sexiest Man Alive" by People magazine, and in 1999, at age 69, he was voted "Sexiest Man of the Century".
Connery's acting breakthrough came in the role of secret agent James Bond 007. He played the character in the first five Bond films: Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), and You Only Live Twice (1967), then appeared again as Bond in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and Never Say Never Again (1983).
James Bond's creator, Ian Fleming, originally doubted the casting, saying, "He's not what I envisioned of James Bond looks" and "I’m looking for Commander Bond and not an overgrown stunt-man," adding that Connery (muscular, 6' 2", and a Scot) was unrefined. However, Fleming's girlfriend told him Connery had the requisite sexual charisma. Fleming changed his mind after the successful Dr. No premiere.