We all love to put on our Sunday best and head out for a flutter, and it’s a practice which probably dates back further than you think.
Here’s a look at the oldest casinos in Europe, as well as two of the oldest from the spiritual home of poker, Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas strip is considered the world’s capital of live poker, with 51 casinos adorning the road, according to the Nevada Gaming Commission. The oldest of all of them is The Flamingo, which has a rather interesting history.
The Flamingo was first opened in 1946 by mobster Bugsy Siegel (who held a two-thirds stake) and his partners, as Siegel hoped to sweep his criminal background under the rug by opening a casino outside of Las Vegas city limits (which the strip was, at the time).
He named it after his long-legged girlfriend, but wouldn’t live to see the establishment thrive as he was shot in 1947.
When it comes to Las Vegas’s oldest casino in general, we, of course, have to look to Freemont Street. The Golden Gate was originally named Sal Sagev Casino (“Las Vegas” backwards) when it became a casino in 1931 once gambling became legal (previously it was a hotel named Hotel Nevada).
The casino changed its name to The Golden Gate in 1955, and it still operates today. Sadly, though, its famous cheap shrimp cocktails (once costing just 50 cents) are no longer available.
Moving across the pond to Europe, the fourth oldest casino in the continent operates from one its smallest yet most lavish countries.
Casino de Monte Carlo first opened its doors back in 1856, the brainchild of Monaco’s Princess Caroline. Monte Carlo as a resort destination posed some problems though, most notably a lack of roads leading to it, but the casino was successful and soon added a concert hall.
These days the casino is perhaps most famous for its association with James Bond (he plays a famous poker session in the poker room in the 2006 film Casino Royale), but its also the location of the most famous case of “gambler’s fallacy”, when a roulette ball landed on black 26 times in a row in 1913, costing local gamblers who continued to bet red millions.
The initial success of Germany’s Kurhaus of Baden-Baden casino can be credited to the French, who flocked to the establishment from its opening as a place to gamble in 1834 while gambling in France was illegal.
Like the other European casinos on this list, chandelliers and expensive-looking painted murals fill the luxurious casino space. It remains open to this day. Fun fact: Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky–author of Crime and Punishment and, more fittingly, The Gambler–was a frequent visitor to the casino.
Going back another 71 years, the second oldest casino in Europe belongs to Belgium. The Casino de Spa was opened in 1763, but due to unfortunate fire damage, it had to be rebuilt in 1918.
Nevertheless, the casino still boasts all the style and charm you’d expect from such an old and extravagant establishment and remains a popular place to spend an evening to this day.
More than 100 years prior to Casino de Spa’s opening, the only official place for a flutter on European soil was in Venice at Casino di Venezia. It opened its doors in 1638, albeit in a different building to where it now resides (it moved location in 1950).
Inside, the oldest casino in the world possesses a mix of classic elegance with modern style, always remaining true to its local Venetian culture. Speaking of which, the best way to arrive here is along the canals in a water taxi. How’s that for baller?