The history of modern casinos

Although gambling itself appeared many centuries BC, for centuries there were no specially organized places where you could indulge in your favorite game. Card games, favorite wint or pharaoh were organized in homes, palaces, taverns, brothels or in military garrisons – wherever there were only a few people willing to play.

The beginnings of regular gambling sites date back to the 17th century, when three types of people associated with this occupation crystallized. The first was those who tried to gamble only as entertainment, never getting involved in this business more. The second group consists of people who tried to multiply their wealth at all costs, risking its entirety. At the end they went cheaters, i.e. directly responsible for organizing entertainment.

The history of the first real casino dates back to the 17th century, which was founded in Venice. This game house was to control gambling during the Venetian carnival, and only guests in masks had access to it, which was associated with the famous carnival. It was in Venice in 1638. The casino was called Ridotto, although the name was associated with the definition of secret meetings. As many as four floors were opened for players, where they played card games from the basset, through faro and baccarat. In addition, there was an early version of roulette, which was then called biribisso. The last title was panfil, but the rules of this game have not been saved and so far it is not known what the gameplay itself was.
The restaurant also had coffee, as well as wine and snacks, which brought various social strata to the place. The great popularity of Ridotto led to the development of so-called casini, but the center of gravity moved from Italy to France, where more casino games were created, including roulette as we know it now or Blackjack. This last game, however, raises some controversy and it is still unknown who and when created it. But the Venetian casino’s career did not last long. The local nobility indulged in a gambling passion not only in the carnival, and because the losing of all estates by Venetian noblemen was not uncommon, the city authorities ordered the closing of the sanctuary.

And gambling in France has a very long history. It is here that gambling games, which are popular all over the world today, were born and spread. Roulette, which we find in every casino in the world had its origins in France, when in the 17th century the French mathematician Blaise Pascal invented the roulette wheel. There is often an opinion that roulette is based to some extent on the Italian game Hoca, popular in the 17th century in Europe. The then Secretary General of France, Cardinal Mazarin, opened special casinos in the country, where you could play this game. In this way, Mazarin wanted to contribute to the state budget. Also popular Blackjack had its origins in France, where under the name Vinget-et-un enjoyed great interest in a large part of society, as well as Napoleon Bonaparte himself. Thanks to the dynamic development of gambling in France, casinos were founded here as early as the 18th century. However, the first appearance of people playing roulette took place in 1796 at the Palais Royal in Paris. Moreover, the first law regarding the legalization of gambling in modern France was enacted in 1907. However, Casino Barrière Enghien-les-Bains was founded six years earlier (1901) in Enghien-les-Bains, and the history of the casino Le Touquet dates back to 1903. The construction of Casino Le Lyon Vert began in the late 1870s and was completed in 1882. However, this was not unlawful but only the lack of standards at the time, which, changed and adopted in 1907, shape the gambling market in France.

However, Monte Carlo Casino is considered the first real casino located in the nearby principality of Monaco. Unlike in Venice, the casino was created as a way to multiply the property of the principality and not only was gambling not banned, but the city was even started to develop in this direction. Monaco soon became the undisputed capital of gambling, which was visited from around the world. The casino was built in 1863 according to the design of Charles Garnier, the author of, among others design of the famous Opera Garnier in Paris.

Since its inception, Monte Carlo Casino has attracted the wealthiest guests from many European countries. The casino is currently owned by a public company supervised by the government and the royal family – Société des Bains de Mer de Monaco. The company also owns hotels, sports clubs, dining outlets and night clubs throughout Monaco. Also today, it thrives, being a paradise not only for gamblers. Currently, despite the fact that there are only four casinos located in Monte Carlo in the Principality of Monaco, this place is still considered the European capital of gambling.

The legalization of gambling in the US state of Nevada was another major breakthrough in casino history. This is how Las Vegas was born, which is still known today for its impressive casinos and a truly “gambling” atmosphere. The beginnings of the US gambling industry were completely different. Before Las Vegas became the entertainment capital of the world, it was more like a desert wasteland along a trade route to California.

The area around Las Vegas attracted casino operators even before gambling was officially legalized, and this is because effective law enforcement in such remote areas was almost impossible at the time. The first casino to start operating there is the Golden Gate Casino. The facility was opened in 1906 as Hotel Nevada. A year later, the first telephone in Las Vegas, number 1, was installed. In 1931, when the state of Nevada legalized gambling, the Hotel Nevada was expanded, and its name was changed to Sal Sagev (Las Vegas spoken backwards). The hotel got its current name in 1995 when a group of investors from the San Francisco Bay Area opened the Golden Gate Casino.

The oldest and best known European casinos

Casinò di Venezia in Italy

The extensive, Renaissance edifice built in 1509 initially belonged to local notables, before the Venetian house of games was built there in 1638. Located on the Grand Canal, the casino building is decorated with classic columns, located on each floor of the building. The lower storey contains two high French doors, divided by a pillar ending in an arched vault. The luxurious interiors of the building are decorated with sculptures, chandeliers and paintings, among which are works of the Baroque painter Mattia Bortoloni. Considered to be the oldest casino in the world, Casinò di Venezia operates to this day and enjoys the unflagging interest of wealthy players. In the historical casino rooms you can play traditional French casino games: roulette, Chemin de Fer, Trente et Quarante. There are also American-style games – Texas Hold’em, Blackjack and Carribean Stud, more than 600 one-armed bandits are waiting for players. Casinò di Venezia became loud when masked bandits robbed a casino in 2010 and stole € 100,000. According to police reports, the thieves fled the crime scene by car, which they quickly converted into a small motorboat. So far, the police have not managed to find their footprint.

Casino Baden-Baden in Germany

On the outskirts of the Black Forest in southwestern Germany lies the historic spa town of Baden-Baden, which has been attracting tourists with spa centers, beautiful monuments and gardens for years, and the casino could not be missing. Kurhaus Casino Baden-Baden is one of the most impressive casinos in the world. The original structure of the Kurhaus Casino Baden-Baden dates from 1766, when the seat of the local marquis was there. Designed by Friedrich Weinbrenner, the building in the classical style impresses with Corinthian columns and rich interiors, and sculptures of two griffins dominate the huge, stylized entrance.

In the 1830s, the casino in Baden-Baden gained international fame, especially when gambling was banned in France. In the early twentieth century, European elites often visited the spa and the already historic casino to relax, do business, take part in lavish balls and charity events. Celebrities such as Hector Berlioz, Franz Liszt, Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms visited the casino. Marlena Dietrich described Kurhaus Casino as “the most beautiful casino in the world”, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky was inspired by him by writing the novel “Player”. The novel was created only within a month, because the author urgently needed money to pay off … card debts.

Crockfords Club in Great Britain

The rich tradition of gambling in Great Britain is over 2000 years old. The first British casinos began to appear in the nineteenth century, as private player clubs. One of the oldest casinos, Crockfords Club in London was opened in 1826 as a meeting place for the British elite. William Crockford opened the casino with the support of the Duke of Wellington. It was an exclusive and elite club, whose fame quickly spread beyond the borders of Great Britain, attracting in addition to the national elite also foreigners from the upper classes.

Crockfords Club operates to this day in Mayfair, an exclusive district of London and is one of the most elite casinos in the world. The game at Crockfords Club Casino takes place in an elegant environment, there are no separate rooms for high stakes or private game rooms. The games currently offered at the casino are American Roulette, Blackjack, Baccarat and Poker. Crockfords Club also broadcasts live casino games.

Casino Wiesbaden in Germany

Not far from Baden-Baden is another well-known spa town of southern Germany, Wiesbaden, which was a holiday resort in the Middle Ages. In the city center is the 200-year-old Casino Wiesbaden building, which dates back to 1810. The casino is surrounded by green area. Players visiting them can admire the spectacular fountains and the impressive colonnade at the entrance to the Kurhaus Wiesbaden building. In addition to the casino, the property also includes a spa, theater, restaurants, concert and ballrooms, and huge organs. Emperor Wilhelm II, who often visited the Kurhaus Wiesbaden, called it “the most beautiful spa building in the world”. Johan Volfgang von Goethe also admired him. The game rooms at Casino Wiesbaden are like works of art – cherry wood interiors, Greek-style sculptures and crystal chandeliers give them a unique character. Despite its historic character, the casino operates to this day, offering players over 180 slot machines, and classic table games such as Blackjack and poker and roulette at the highest rates in Germany.

Interesting facts

* Personas such as Giacomo Casanova, Lorenzo Da Ponte or Jean-Jacques Rousseau came to the Ridotto casino. The story for the latter was not kind, because after losing all his property he ended up in the slums, where he finished his life.

** In fact, Blackjack invented at the end of the 18th century, being strongly influenced by the game called Vingt-et-un, he was very popular among the rich (Napoléon Bonaparte as the main example), as well as among the poor class. It was a period when the French rose to fight for their independence from the tyranny of autocracy. The fight for independence brought a positive result on July 14, 1789, commonly known as Bastille Day.

*** In 1928, the Crockfords Club was reformed primarily as a bridge club patronized by British players, including world champion Terence Reese and Kenneth Konstam. Then chemin-de-fer, roulette and blackjack were added, bringing the club back to its gambling traditions.

**** During World War II, the German army used Casino d’Enghien-les-Bains as a regular hospital for its soldiers. The casino began its post-war activities only in 1946 according to a new law prohibiting casinos operating within a 100 km radius of Paris.

***** Golden Gate Casino was the first facility where for 50 cents you could buy a shrimp cocktail, known as the Original Shrimp Cocktail. Since 1959, when the cocktail hit the menu, Golden Gate is associated primarily with this dish. The originator of the cocktail was the owner Italo Ghelfi, who took it from the vicinity of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

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