Brief History of Casinos: How the House of Gambling Began

A casino is a place where you can play many different kinds of gambling activities. I guess everyone knows this unless she or he has been living under a rock. What you probably don’t know is that a casino is not always the place where people went to put their money at stake. Long before the term was used, Italians used to visit the Ridotto, while Americans visited saloons to gamble.

The word ‘casino’ is rooted in the Italian word ‘casa’, which means ‘house’. While the term originally referred to a summer country villa, pavilion, or summerhouse, it later developed to refer to a place providing pleasure, such as dancing, listening to music, watching sports, and of course gambling. While such places still exist in today’s Italy, Italians prefer to call such building a bordello. Only in Italy, today, you will find casinos (the real gambling houses as we commonly recognize) spelled as casinĂ².

Apart from their association with pleasurable activities and gambling, there were several places called ‘casino’ that did not house gambling activities. For instance, the Copenhagen Casino in Denmark was a theater. In fact, it was known as a renowned Danish theater until 1937. This building witnessed the establishment of Danish constitutional monarchy as its hall was made for mass public meetings during the 1848 revolution. Another example is the Hanko Casino in Hanko, Finland. Despite of its name, the building was a spa resort where Russian nobility used to visit in the late 19th century. Hanko Casino is today used as a restaurant. Quite a different story is connected to the Catalina Casino in California, USA. Built specifically as a house of gambling, the casino never had a chance to be one as California had already outlawed the activity by the time it was completed.

To visit a land-based casino, you will commonly need to meet an age limitation that ranges between 16 and 21 depending on the country where the casino is based. Games available in a casino vary depending on the building’s management, but generally, you will be able to play table games such as roulette, various dice or tile games, and various card games; electronic games such as pachinko, video poker, and slot machines; and other games such as keno and bingo.

There are several places in the world destined to be gambling heavens. One of the most famous destinations for gamblers is now Macau. With 33 casinos clustered in this Chinese special administrative region, Macau has managed to earn the highest revenue among other similar places in at least three consecutive years. In 2011, Macau earned US$28,379 million revenue from gamblers from all over the world.

The second most famous betting place would be Monte Carlo, Monaco. Apart from generating high revenue, this place is also very well known in popular culture. Besides being incorporated in various James Bond novels and films, Monte Carlo is also referred to in a film and song entitled The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.

Similarly famous with Monte Carlo is the Las Vegas Strip located in Nevada, USA. This area has 122 casinos, the largest gambling building concentration in the United States. Besides positioned as the second biggest revenue maker after Macau, the LV Strip also has become the setting in various movies.

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