The Oldest Casino in the World: The First Casino in Operation

Casinos have become so deeply integrated into the fabric of western culture – land-based gambling establishments have been around longer than the United States constitution – it seems they were here since the dawn of time. Although their existence does indeed have a beginning in the middle ages, discovering the oldest casinos in the world requires deep archival investigation, contextual understanding, and the ability to trace the history of these venues back to their origins. Throughout this article we present you with our findings, some of the original gambling establishments that human civilization built. Many of these venues still exist today, and we hope you enjoy this fascinating look back at the history of the world’s oldest casinos.
A casino table.
Published on: 29 March 2020

Looking Back at the Oldest Casinos in the World

As we begin this journey across the world of gambling origins, it is worth recognizing the fact that the first casino in the world is over 380 years old. In those early days of wagering, dice were a popular tool for oddsmakers and punters, as the first games such as craps were invented. Playing card games with similarities to poker have origins in the 16th Persian societies, with the playing cards themselves descending from Monk monasteries in 9th century China.

Nowadays, it is easy to forget the humble origins of gambling when looking at the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas and Macau, the world’s oldest casinos originated in much more inconspicuous places. So without further ado, here are the 5 oldest casinos in the world…

Casino di Venezia (1638)

The Casino di Venezia logo.

The original stomping ground of famous Italian adventurer Giacomo Casanova, the Casino di Venezia emerged as the city was becoming the true pleasure capital of the world. Back in the 17th century, under the control of conservative politicians and religious leaders, there was widespread tolerance of social vices such as gambling and tourism was encouraged. As an essential stopping point on the Grand Tour, rich young men mainly from the Kingdom of Great Britain frequented the coastal city and fuelled the evolution of its gambling and leisure culture.

As the official oldest casino in the world, the Casino di Venezia opened its doors to the city of Venice in 1638. The original building was in Ridotto of San Moise, but today you will find the Casino di Venezia in Lido. Moving at the end of the 1930s the casino owners found a quaint and luxurious riverside location that is perfectly fitted to the ethos and spirit of the original venue. The luxury casino situated on the Grand Canal in Venice offers a plethora of modern table games, and customers can enjoy everything from Roulette, Blackjack and Caribbean Poker. Unfortunately, fans of Texas Hold ‘em Poker will be disappointed, as the venue abandoned the card game and no longer features it in their card game offerings.

Casino de Spa (1763)

The Casino de Spa logo.

Since the 18th century, Spa, Belgium has been a casino city landmark for European adventurers and leisure tourists. First built in the summer of 1763, it was the initiative of two of the town young mayors, they set themselves a lofty goal of building a new centrum for the local nobility which was to include a ballroom, theatres, and casinos. The Casino de Spa in Belgium has undergone many renovations and transformations over its history, and after it was devastated in 1918 due to fire damage it had to be completely rebuilt.

Since the early 2000s the Circus Casino Spa Group have operated the venue, and the firm ensured that the Casino de Spa was able to offer a plethora of all-time casino classics including roulette, poker, and baccarat. But it is not just the casino gambling that the venue is famed for these days, with its long arching history and prime location comes a spirit of authenticity and luxury that is hardly rivaled anywhere around Europe. Customers can enjoy premium 5-star service when staying at this integrated resort, and there are thermal baths that stretch the perimeter of the building and outside.

Casino Wiesbaden (1810)

The Spielbank Wiesbaden logo.

It may not be the oldest casino in the world, but it was the first casino in Germany. Casino Wiesbaden has a long a storied past that stretches way back into the early nineteenth century, the time was difficult for casinos and gamblers back then, but this progressive part of the country granted a license for public card games. From then on, this fashionable part of Germany began to attract more and more attention as leisure tourists, musicians, aristocracy, artists, landed gentry and gamblers around the continent descended on Wiesbaden.

The casino’s very neo-classical interior design offers a delightful aesthetic that customers can enjoy – being both well-balanced and eye-catching – the enormous chandeliers and cherry woodwork leave an enchanting spell on every guest that arrives onto the casino floor. There are few better places to be in Germany at Christmas, and the festive atmosphere that this casino naturally oozes are accentuated by its deep and romantic history full of tales of maverick bravery and wonder. Overall, it is an impressive piece of architecture, and the modern-day casino still manages to maintain its original charm. 

Crockford’s Club (1828)

The Crockfords Casino logo.   Established in the heart of London Mayfair, Crockfords is an exclusive private members club and casino and is the oldest gaming club in the world. When William Crockford founded his club back in 1828, his dream was to build an exclusive society of like-minded individuals who appreciated the finer things in life. The aristocratic and fashionable gambling elite would gather at Crockfords to enjoy the best wines, fine food and be surrounded in pure splendor and luxury. It sounds rather appealing, but unfortunately, this is a venue that was built for the few, not the many. Membership required undergoing a selection process and it became incredibly competitive to get inside this fashionable London hotspot.

Today the Crockfords membership club stays faithful to the spirit of its founding father. The magnificent interior is still there, and the casino still has the same original ornaments used when it was established. With so much heritage and significance in the Mayfair locality, Crockfords is held in very high regard across the world. Nowadays the casino floor is filled with tourists and foreign businessman, with a large Chinese affiliation, Crockfords has scaled up into an exporter of British splendor.

Casino de Monte Carlo (1856)

The La Casino Monte Carlo logo.

The Casino de Monte Carlo is one of the biggest and most well-known casino establishments in the world, and its history is certainly one of most exciting in the land-based casino story. Established in 1856 by Princess Caroline of Monaco, it was intended to rescue the ruling family of Monaco from the financial pressure of losing large proportions of tax revenue from breakaway towns. The casino underwent numerous renovations and reconstruction projects – with successful French entrepreneur and operator Francois Blanc headhunted to take over the venture, the casino finally began turning a profit in the 1870s.

Monte Carlo has for nearly two centuries been the focal point of Europe’s wealthy gambling elite. In the summer of 1913, the casino witnessed one of the most famous cases ever of gamblers fallacy, as in a game of roulette the ball fell on black 26 times in a row. Due to the consensus that the mounting number of black occurrences was leading to a cumulative imbalance in the wheel, gamblers lost millions betting on red expecting it was due to arrive to disrupt the streak. Of course, as any well-informed gambler will know, 26 blacks in a row is just as likely as the 67 million other combinations of sequences.

Conclusion: World’s Oldest Casinos Still in Business

It is amazing to comprehend that these casinos have stood for centuries, surviving two world wars, revolutions, economic crisis and disease pandemics, these institutions have truly stood the test of time. Many of the world’s oldest casinos continue to operate through to this day and create vast amounts of wealth for the private ownership firms and families that own them. They remain timeless and offer a unique playing experience to punters who tend to flock towards authenticity and gambling in its purest format.

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