Even though people have gambled throughout history, it is only in the 17th Century that actual casinos, or houses of organized gambling, were first recorded. The word “casino” comes from the same origin as the Italian “casa” – or “house” (like in the famous saying “mi casa, su casa”, literally meaning, make yourself at home). It started as houses of entertainment and pleasure: not only for gambling, but also for dance, music and merriment. These days, if you’re visiting Italy and wish to gamble, be sure to look for a casinò, because without the accent, people will assume you mean a brothel…
The History of the Casino
In the United States, 1931 saw the legalization of gambling in the state of Nevada. This gave way to the establishment of gambling powerhouses in Las Vegas and Reno, where consolidated casinos and hotels dominate the desert skyline. In Vegas, most casinos and entertainment activity takes place in the Las Vegas Strip, which is actually outside its city limits.
In Europe, the Monte Carlo Casino was established in Monaco decades before, and opened its gates way back in 1863. However, it could not sustain itself for very long. A year later, a gambler had won 50,000 Francs, and the casino patrons discovered they cannot pay the winner without going bankrupt.
The Monte Carlo Casino was saved by a businessman called François Blanc who had arrived in Monaco with a team of his own croupiers. Once the steam train was introduced to Monaco, Monte Carlo began to enjoy a succession of visitors, who were deterred of arriving there before, when the only way was either by boat or by mule path… In 1890, electricity was introduced to the casino, making the entire enterprise a happier and better lit place. Two years later, a song called “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo” was made famous by British singer Charles Coborn.
Monte Carlo enjoyed its first slot machine when the Liberty Bell machines made their way from the United States in 1931. The slot machines games were invented 50 years previously, by American engineer Charles Fey.
To this day, Monte Carlo is so synonymous with casinos and slot machines, that not one but two of Prime Slots games are called Monte Carlo and Monte Carlo Dice.
Monte Carlo image by Håkan Dahlström