Most people, when they hear the word “casino”, they immediately think of either Las Vegas or Macau, the two biggest and best-known gambling cities in the world. But being the “biggest” and “best-known” doesn’t mean “the only”. Organized gambling has a long history in Europe, the place where casinos, as we know them, were first introduced. Since the first casino – Il Ridotto – was opened in Venice in 1638, organized gambling has come a long way, going from gambling dens on street corners to regulated online outlets like the Jackpot City Casino, licensed to offer its services over the internet. This year, the JackpotCity has become the only viable way to gamble for most Europeans. That until the betting shops, lottery stores with gaming terminals, and casinos reopen across the old world.
Among the skyscrapers of Macau and the millions of lights across Sin City, there are quite a few destinations that should find a place on your bucket list – even if gambling is not on your mind. Most of them stand out not because of the flickering lights or the big wins but their beauty and fame that makes them part of (popular) culture.
Venice is famous for many things, from its gondolas to its Carnival – and it’s also home to the oldest, and perhaps the most beautiful, casino in the world.
The winter home of Casinó di Venezia is Ca’ Vendramin Calergi, built in the late 15th century in just 28 years, a record speed for the time. A beautiful example of Venetian architecture with amazing interiors and decorations, it offers its visitors a variety of things to see and do – among other things, it’s home to probably the most beautiful gambling floor in the world. Those who don’t want to play also have reasons to visit it: aside from its beauty, the building is also home to Venice’s Richard Wagner museum that commemorates the famous German composer’s life and passing among its walls.
Those who think the age of city-states is over certainly haven’t heard of Monaco. Stuck between France and the Mediterranean sea, Monaco is the smallest and perhaps the wealthiest state in Europe. It’s also a perfect place for “celebrity-spotting”.
Monaco is home to perhaps the best-known casino in the world, Casino de Monte-Carlo.
For years, Monte Carlo was the casino in Europe because many countries decided to ban gambling altogether, becoming a veritable place of pilgrimage for Europeans passionate about roulette. The building itself is more than 150 years old, overlooking the city-state from the top of, you guessed it, Monte Carlo. It’s not just a casino, though – it also includes the Opéra de Monte-Carlo. The casino was featured in several James Bond novels, serving as an inspiration for Fleming’s description of the Royale-Les-Eaux, and in the 2004 casino heist movie “Ocean’s Twelve”. And countless other works of fiction, for that matter.
A thermal spa with a history that stretches back to the time of the Roman empire, Baden-Baden is a popular European destination.
The spa resort of the town was built in the early 19th century, with architect Friedrich Weinbrenner responsible for its Corinthian columns and neo-classical interiors. Over the years, the resort – and the casino – achieved international fame, attracting celebrities like Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky and German-American diva Marlene Dietrich. The Baden-Baden casino resort stands out of the crowd with its amazing interiors, prompting many to call it “the most beautiful casino in the world”.