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You may not have heard of worldwide casino boss Craig Ballantyne — but you’ve more than likely heard of some of the places he’s worked.

Casino resort website launches

Craig will now be in charge of Melco International Ltd's City of Dreams Mediterranean in Cyprus (Pictured above)

The 67-year-old grew up in Fintry and Stobswell but has since lived and worked in Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Kenya, Egypt, Lebanon, South Africa and Greece.

A one-time bank worker at a city branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland, he became a renowned casino operator across the globe.

By Jon Brady for The  EVENING TELEGRAPH - DUNDEE BORN AND READ

Over 45 years, he has gained an industry-wide reputation for cleaning up dirty gambling dens.

It’s a reputation he has built up with a no-nonsense approach to business and zero tolerance of corruption — and the journey hasn’t been without a few heart-stopping moments along the way.

He joked: “When people find out I work in casinos they always say to me, ‘It must just be like that film, Casino’. But some of the stories I could tell I could make that look like a kindergarten story.”

Born to parents Samuel and Diana in 1951, Craig initially lived in the West End before moving to Fintry, where he attended Linlathen Secondary.

When his father bought a house beside Baxter Park he attended Morgan Academy, after which he got a job with RBS.

However, as he told the Tele, working under a bank manager was not the life he felt cut out for.

“It was the type of job where you’d have to turn up in a white shirt and a pinstripe suit – it just wasn’t for me,” he explained.

A job interview with Ladbrokes landed him a job in a bookies and he quickly moved up the chain.

Then in the 1970s, the company diversified into casinos and Craig was asked to work as a dealer.

“I worked in London, Luton, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool,” he said.

“I started training other dealers – without any structure.

“So I started writing training manuals and standard operating procedures.

“I opened a few casinos for them and by the end of 1976 I was writing training courses.”

However, Ladbrokes later lost its casino licence after it was found to have bribed police officers in order to target known high rollers, and was forced to sell up to Stakis.

“I wasn’t really happy for a while after that,” said Craig.

“But I got an offer from Austria Casinos to work in Poland — and that’s when the real fun started.”

Because of his 20 years of experience, Craig was given the opportunity to run several casinos – and a chance to demonstrate his pragmatic style of thinking.

“This was just after Solidarność, a Polish political party, became the first in the Eastern Bloc to be democratically elected in 1989.

“On my first posting, to Wrocław, there were issues with Gypsies, moneylending and thefts by the staff.

“One of the Gypsies decided to sue the casino, for whatever reason.

“And while I was leaving Wrocław at the time for another casino, I decided that we needed to put toughened glass in the windows.

“And by way of revenge for not succeeding in his case, this Gypsy got two guys on a motorcycle to try and throw a Molotov cocktail through the window.

“But it bounced off the glass and covered them in flames!”

It was this thinking that would gain the Fintry lad fresh opportunities – and take him further than he once imagined.

 

By Jon Brady for The  EVENING TELEGRAPH - DUNDEE BORN AND READ

READ THE FULL STORY AND MORE AT THE EVENING TELEGRAPH - DUNDEE BORN AND READ

 

SEE ALSO - CYPRUS - CITY OF DREAMS MEDITERRANEAN WEBSITE NOW LAUNCHED

14.02.2018
 
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