When we think of casinos these days we are usually thinking of bright lights, loud music, over the top décor, drinks and bustling atmosphere. They are usually pretty huge as well, with modern architecture almost out of the window and simply a place to cram as many games in as possible.
We’ve looked at several of the biggest (and smallest) casinos in the world and they all have a similar blueprint. They are built for size and they are built for exuberance, for the most part at least.
But that’s not how all casinos are, and there are plenty that have been around for a long time. Whilst each are unique, they offer a look and feel that only comes with age. They’re mature and they function just how they did when they first opened their doors. There’s a certain mystique to our list of the oldest casinos in the world and without any further a due, let’s jump straight in.
Casino di Venezia – 1638
Note: This casino claims to have been established in 1638, however we should point out that back then it was known as The Ridotto and has taken up residence in a number of different locations over the years. There was also a fairly large gap from 1774 when it first closed to it’s reopening in 1936. So take the ‘oldest’ claim with a pinch of salt.
The oldest casino in the world is that of Casino di Venezia, which is of course located in the beautiful Italian city of Venice. The location for the casino, as you would expect, is right on the waterfront and you can even get access to it by one of the gondolas that surround the city.
The architecture from the outside has changed very little and even before you enter, it’s got that air of grandeur that modern casinos just don’t have. It looks like it could have easily been a part of the James Bond movie franchise at some point and is interestingly the burying spot of the composer, Richard Wagner.
Inside the casino is what sets this place aside from most of the others. The décor is modern, but it’s still got that traditional feel to it. Obviously, it’s seen multiple renovations over the last 300+ years, but they’ve clearly been keen to keep it looking fairly traditional.
Casino de Spa – 1763
The Casino de Spa is located in Belgium and again, is another visually stunning piece of architecture. But the casino is actually a lot more modern than its 1763 origins would suggest, due to it being rebuilt in 1918 following huge fire damage.
The casino offers a mix of both old and new, with the introduction to newer table games and of course video slots doted throughout the building. The grounds and the site of the casino make it a very special one to visit and attracts thousands of tourists to the area every year. Lots of motorsport fanatics make the yearly pilgrimage for the Formula 1, before also spending a considerable amount of time in the casino, which is also frequented by the drivers following the race.
Kurhaus of Baden-Baden – 1834
Germany’s Kurhaus of Baden-Baden casino dates back to the early 19th century. It changed to a casino in 1834 and since then has been one of the most popular casinos in the country.
The inside of the casino is absolutely stunning and is one of the grandest that you can find anywhere in Europe. The casino was massively popular back in the day due to gambling being illegal in France, and thousands used to flock there every month given that it wasn’t too far from the France/Germany border.
The grounds surrounding the casino are meticulously preserved and with it have won several horticultural awards over the years.
Casino de Monte Carlo – 1856
Whilst not the oldest on our list, the Casino de Monte Carlo is probably the most recognised and well-known casino in the world. It’s located in one of the gambling capitals of the world as well, Monaco.
Whilst all of the casinos on this list are architecturally stunning, there would be few people argue with us when we say that the Casino de Monte Carlo is up there with the best. It’s instantly recognisable, even for non-casino players, and draws in millions of tourists to the principality each year.
The casino is very much a who’s-who of celebrities and the rich and famous, with millions of dollar’s worth of cars parked and cruising around the casino every day. In fact, it’s so iconic that the area where the casino is located is known as Casino Square.
What’s interesting about this casino though is that locals aren’t allowed to come in and gamble and it’s only for tourists. In fact, any resident of Monaco is banned from all 5 of the casinos in the Principality for the fear that they become addicted to gambling and lose too much of their money that is required for them to live there.
If you’ve not seen or heard of the casino before, then you may well recognise it from the James Bond film, Casino Royale. There were several scenes from the movie both filmed and based in the casino, highlighting just how stunning the setting is.
Golden Gate Casino – 1906
The Golden Gate Casino is the only one of our lists that was made in the 20th Century and is the only casino that is featured in Las Vegas. The casino is referred to as the “Godfather of Vegas” and this is because it’s been standing longer than any of the others.
It’s been massively important for the city and given that it’s the oldest, has seen pretty much everything that’s gone on there since gambling really started to take off in the 1930’s.
It was John F. Miller who was behind the casino and was able to snap up the piece of land at auction for just $1,750. It took him 12 months to eventually get the casino constructed and then opened and the rest, as they say, is history.
The current structure for the hotel is a brilliant mix of old and new. They’ve marketed the fact they were one of the first in Vegas, and with it include memorabilia from when they first opened their doors, mixing with the likes of sports bars, slots, table games and restaurants to bring it into the 21st Century.