A Brief History of Casinos

A Brief History

The origin of gambling and the origin of casinos are two very different timelines. Despite modern-day society using the casino as the hub of gambling activity, it’s very likely that gambling is an activity that dates back to 3000 BCE, as this is the first record of six-sided dice. Ancient China also shows signs of some early gambling.

Gambling houses

In a similar way to how a public house was termed “pub”, gambling houses were termed “casino” later on – there’s actually a ton of casino terminology that became mainstream as gambling became more formalized.

Again, the origin of public houses is difficult to pinpoint because everything from the Romans and Greeks to Napoleon’s France showed signs of having places with entertainment and games that resemble gambling.

We usually point to Venice, Italy, in 1638 as the first official casino, even if the word “casino” came later on. The gambling in the Casino di Venezia was even controlled by the Great Council of Venice, but was later closed down in 1774. It was merely an add-on inside a theatre designed for a place to spend some time in the performance intervals, but by the time it closed down, there were over 120 casinos in Venice. It went viral.

Brief History of Casinos

Oldest operating casino

Unfortunately, all of the 17th-century casinos cease to exist. Though, the Casino di Venezia did actually open back up in the mid-20th century after some 300-year break. Today, it’s still operating and offers a surreal experience.

Beyond Venice, the oldest casino that is still operating lies in Baden, Germany, and is called Kurhaus Casino of Baden. This casino was designed in the mid-1820s and began to garner a European-wide reputation by the 1830s. At this time it was illegal to gamble in France, so the fact that the casino was situated near the french border certainly helped in its success.

The one we have all heard of, either because we have seen it on Ocean’s Twelve and Casino Royale or because it’s perhaps the most reputable casino in the world, is the Casino de Monte Carlo in Monaco.

The Monte Carlo is often referred to as the oldest casino in the world, but it came a little later in 1856. Still, it’s remained a cultural rock since then, and despite moving location in 1863, it spearheaded casino culture. Fine dining, live entertainment, and all of the things we associate with modern casinos can be attributed to the Monte Carlo casino.

The future of the casino industry

If the Monte Carlo has stood strong for almost 200 years, it’s likely that it will keep going – as will Vegas, Venice, and many other casino scenes.

Though it can’t be denied that there’s a shift in the way we think about casinos. In very recent years, online casinos have not only been introduced but are now more popular. Many misinterpret this, though, as a threat to the casino industry, but that would be missing the point.

What casinos offer is the glitz, glamour, entertainment, atmosphere, and networking of a night out. James Bond’s new movie cannot be filmed with him playing online poker in his bedroom.


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