Those who believe casinos to be a modern phenomenon may be surprised to know casinos have been in existence for the best part of 400 years! Even some establishments on the fabled Vegas strip, still comparative newcomers to the gaming scene, have been around for more than 50 years. Here is a list of the top ten oldest casinos in the world.
1. Casino de Venecia, Italy: 1638
The Casino de Venecia, built by the Italian architect Mauro Codussi, started life as a theatre (the Theatre Saint Moses). This had one wing dedicated to gambling, which apparently went on during the intervals at play performances. In fact, this casino was one of the main reasons casino gambling became so popular in the Venetian state capital. By 1744, Venice was home to more than 120 gambling houses.
2. Casino de Spa, Belgium: 1763
The Belgian town of Spa is the original destination for anyone seeking health-giving waters. But since the 18th century, this town has also been famous for its casinos. The innovative concept of providing a gaming hall to entertain well-heeled visitors was then copied across the world. Two city mayors, Xhrouet Lambert and Gérard de Leau, arranged the construction of the first Casino de Spa (1763). Their intention was to create luxurious amenities for the local gentry.
3. Kurhaus of Baden-Baden, Germany: 1834
The core of the Kurhaus spa was designed in 1824 by Friedrich Weinbrenner. He was the one responsible for the neo-classical interiors, the Corinthian columns and the paired-griffins frieze in the grand entrance. Even though the Kurhaus included a casino from the outset, it was not until the mid-1830s (when gambling was banned in France) that the building became internationally famous. Dostoyevsky’s ‘The Gambler’ was inspired by the author’s visit, and Marlene Dietrich rated the Kurhaus “the most beautiful casino in the world.”
4. Casino de Monte Carlo, Monaco: 1856
The Monte Carlo Casino is a famous gambling and entertainment complex situated in the city-state of Monaco. Princess Caroline, the wife of Prince Florestan 1 and an astute, business-minded woman, is credited with the initial idea – the casino revenues were apparently intended to rescue the House of Grimaldi from the threat of bankruptcy. The business is now run by a publicly owned company, but majority shares are held by both the Monaco government and the country’s royal family.
5. Golden Gate Casino, Las Vegas, USA: 1906
Now a part of the Fremont Street Experience, the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino can be found at One Fremont Street, Las Vegas, and is the area’s oldest (and smallest) hotel. Built on land purchased by John F. Miller (an early Las Vegas businessman), in 1905, the site was first a ‘tented’ structure (the Miller Hotel). It became a permanent site (the Hotel Nevada) in 1906, but it was not until 1955 that the building first acquired the Golden Gate name.
6. Casinò di Campione, Ticino, Switzerland: 1917
Founded in 1917, the Casinò di Campione was the largest employer in the municipality of Campione d’Italia, an Italian exclave within the Swiss Canton of Ticino. Owned by the Italian government, and operated by the municipality, the casino’s original purpose was to gather intelligence from foreign diplomats during the First World War. But with hundreds of roulette, blackjack, baccarat and poker tables sitting dark and silent, gathering dust, the old casino is now under threat of permanent closure, and the local residents are worried this could also signal the demise of this tiny Italian outpost.
7. Flamingo Casino, Las Vegas, USA: 1946
The Flamingo Las Vegas is a hotel and casino, which opened in 1946 as the very first hotel on the famous Strip. This vast complex incorporates a 72,300-square-foot casino as well as a 3,626-room hotel. Adopting an architectural design, which owes much to the Art Deco and Streamline Moderne movements, the hotel includes features such as a garden courtyard to act as a habitat area for flamingos.
8. Tropicana, Las Vegas, USA: 1957
A large hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, the Tropicana Las Vegas has 1,467 rooms and a 50,000-square-foot gaming floor as well as 72,000 sq ft of corporate convention and exhibit space. Situated on the busy Las Vegas Boulevard intersection, no pedestrians are allowed to attempt crossings at street level. However, the Tropicana is linked to its neighbouring north-side casinos by an overhead pedestrian bridge.
9. Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, USA: 1966
One of the most famous landmarks in Las Vegas, Caesars Palace is a luxury hotel and casino enterprise. Set up by Jay Sarno in 1966, Caesars Palace offers opulent facilities, many of which are inspired by lifestyle artefacts from the age of the Roman Empire. Its modern casino facilities include table games, a 4,500-square-foot, 24-hour poker room, plus a vast range of slot machines and video poker systems. Caesars Palace also houses a large selection of restaurants as well as entertainment and sports facilities.
10. Circus Circus, Las Vegas, USA :1968
Entertaining tourists on the famous Las Vegas Strip for over 50 years, Circus Circus started life as a casino. Then in 1972 it also became a hotel, and is now a vast 123,928-sq-ft hotel and casino complex. Often used as a movie location (the 1971 Bond film “Diamonds are Forever” was shot here), Circus Circus offers circus entertainments, a carnival type atmosphere, and of course plenty of casino games.