Casino games have never been more popular, as advances in technology have made it possible for players to enjoy premium gaming entertainment online from any location. The only thing you can’t get from online casino games is the experience of physically being in a land-based casino (even though live dealer slots come pretty close).
But not all casinos are created equal and there are some that have lasted for centuries. These iconic casinos offer so much more than just a location to play the best casino games at. On the contrary, they often reflect interesting aspects of the history and identity of the country in which they are located. To celebrate the cultural importance of these classic casinos, join us on a whirlwind tour around the world to pay tribute to the oldest casinos in gambling history.
These are some casinos that have been operating for decades (or in some cases more than a century) in various locations across the world. Unfortunately, they don’t quite make it onto the official list of the oldest casinos in the world, even though they are considered casino landmarks.
Golden Gate Casino, USA – 1905 To Present Day
What would a list of casinos be without Las Vegas, one of the most important American cities in gambling history? The oldest, most historic hotel in North America is the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. It started way back in 1905 when John F. Miller opened a temporary tent hotel. This would become the Hotel Nevada, which opened on January 13, 1906 and was the first hotel in Vegas to have a telephone. The hotel’s gaming tables operated until a gambling ban came into force in 1909. When gambling became legal again in 1931, the Nevada Hotel was renamed Sal Sagev, which is “Las Vegas” spelled backwards, and this old Vegas casino reopened. It was renamed the Golden Gate Casino in 1955 and from 1974 the entire property operated as the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino.
As one of the oldest casinos in Las Vegas, the Golden Gate was the first to serve the famous Vegas shrimp cocktail, selling as many as 2,000 in one day. In 1991, the Golden Gate held an event featuring four former Vegas mayors to celebrate the sale of its 25 millionth shrimp cocktail. Today the Golden Gate is part of the Fremont Street Experience, also known as Glitter Gulch. The casino’s attractions include a live gaming area, a high-limit gaming area and a credit program. The Golden Gate’s signature dancing dealers perform from 6:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. every night. Get a feel for the Vegas vibe with online slots such as Vegas NightLife and Vegas Cash Spins.
Sun City, South Africa – 1979 To Present Day
Until September this year, Africa’s oldest casino was the Mmabatho Palms Hotel Casino Convention Resort, founded in 1977 by hotel magnate Sol Kerzner. Unfortunately, the Mmabatho Palms recently went up in flames, which means Africa’s oldest casino is now another Kerzner hotel, Sun City. Known as “Las Vegas in Africa,” Sun City opened its doors in 1979 after Kerzner invested $50m in transforming the African bush into a casino resort complete with four hotels, a monorail, artificial lake, golf course and a 6,000-seat entertainment arena. Sun City has been a big success and has played host to international stars such as Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Liza Minnelli, Queen, Rod Stewart and George Benson.
In 1992, the same year he was inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame as an “industry leader,” Kerzner opened the Lost City. This Disney-style African theme park expanded Sun City with a 25-hectare artificial jungle complete with streams, waterfalls and ancient ruins. Feature films shot at the Lost City include “Blended,” starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, and “Dangerous Ground,” with Ice Cube and Elizabeth Hurley. In 2004 the original Sun City Hotel was upgraded to the 24/7 Vegas-style Soho Hotel, with a range of nightclubs, burlesque clubs and restaurants. Africa-themed online slot machines such as Raging Rhino and Cats provide a tantalizing taste of the overall experience.
Enjoy Viña del Mar, Chile – 1930 To Present Day
Gambling has long been a part of Chilean culture, with the first land-based casinos opening in 1852. Today, Chile’s oldest licensed gambling establishment is the Enjoy Viña del Mar Casino and Resort, situated in the “garden city” of Viña del Mar, adjacent to Chile’s capital city, Valparaiso.
The story of the house begins in 1928 when President Carlos Ibáñez del Campo decided to secure the city’s future on the basis of tourism and authorized the creation of a municipal gambling house. The idea was to reinvest profits in the community. The Enjoy Viña del Mar has been operating since December 31, 1930. Built in an art deco style and surrounded by lush gardens, the Enjoy Viña del Mar offers gaming tables with casino games such as poker, blackjack and roulette as well as 1,500 slot machines. Step outside the gaming floor and you’re on picture-perfect Libertad Avenue with its sweeping views of the ocean. You may recognize those views from movies such as “Sky Kids,” starring Antonio Banderas, or “The Motorcycle Diaries.”
Hotel Lisboa, Macau – 1970 To Present Day
Macau is the world’s greatest gambling hub and it all started when tycoon Stanley Ho opened the Casino Lisboa as part of the Hotel Lisboa complex back in 1970. It wasn’t long before the house became the gambling destination of choice for high rollers from China and all around the world. The Hotel Lisboa was extended in 1991 and a second expansion, the Grand Lisboa, opened in 2006. You can see the flower-like shape of this iconic destination from miles away as it towers above the Macau skyline.
With a total of 2,362 rooms, an art gallery, a two-story spa, a temperature-controlled outdoor pool and more, the Hotel Lisboa complex is a destination in itself. The main gaming area takes up four floors, with over 230 gaming tables offering a broad range of the best casino games, including roulette, poker, blackjack and, of course, baccarat. This iconic card game featured in James Bond movies such as “Dr No,” the original “Casino Royale” and “Golden Eye,” and the Casino Lisboa has over 140 baccarat tables in 10 exclusive VIP areas. For a glimpse inside and outside the “Golden Pineapple,” as the Grand Lisboa is fondly known, watch “Johnny English Reborn” starring Rowan Atkinson, better known as Mr Bean.
Wrest Point Casino, Australia – 1973 To Present Day
Australia’s first licensed gambling house, the legendary Wrest Point Casino, is the tallest building in Hobart, the capital of the Australian state of Tasmania. Located in an octagonal tower affectionately known as the “Giant Hair Roller,” Wrest Point was the brainchild of a number of Australian hoteliers who thought a gambling house would attract tourism to Tasmania. A state referendum was held in 1968 to canvas public opinion and 53% of voters gave the idea a thumb’s up.
Today Wrest Point is a listed heritage site. The hotel complex accommodates tourists on every kind of budget, with high rollers staying in the 17-story tower with its The Point Revolving Restaurant which offers a 360-degree view of Hobart. The gambling house offers gaming tables, roulette, blackjack and poker, but it’s the slot machines – or “pokies,” as these casino games are known in Australia – that really dominate the scene. There are over 650 of them and they’re very popular because slots are otherwise not available in bars and public places in Tasmania. The only other alternative is to play online slot machines.
The Oldest Casinos in the World
While our honorable mentions are definitely impressive in their own right, they aren’t quite the oldest in existence. Here is our list of the five oldest casinos in the world.
Casino de Monte Carlo, Monaco – 1865 To Present Day
The Casino de Monte-Carlo is a famous casino located in Monte Carlo, Monaco. It was established in 1863 by Prince Charles III of Monaco as a way to attract more tourists and revive the economy of the tiny nation which was struggling to generate enough tax revenue to support the country. The casino building itself was designed to draw on the beautiful architectural styles of the Belle Époque and features grand architecture, ornate interiors and stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea, making it a sight to behold – much like the history of these amazing card designs. However beautiful the casino was, it only became a success several years after it opened when it was taken over by François Blanc, a French entrepreneur and casino operator.
Today visitors can find a variety of gambling options, including slot machines and table games, and private gaming rooms for high rollers. Apart from gambling, the Casino de Monte-Carlo also hosts various events and shows throughout the year, including concerts, ballets and opera performances. The casino has featured in many movies and TV shows, including two James Bond films, “Never Say Never Again” and “GoldenEye.”
Casino Baden-Baden, Germany – 1824 To Present Day
Casino Baden-Baden is located in the spa town of Baden-Baden, Germany. It opened in 1824 after the famous architect Friedrich Weinbrenner completed the building, which features an ornate interior that included chandeliers, intricate ceilings and beautifully designed doors. The exterior is equally exquisite with its arches, columns and other elements indicative of the classical style.
Today, visitors to this casino can enjoy many casino games, including more than 140 slot machines, as well as table games such as baccarat, blackjack and roulette. As with many of these other gambling venues, Casino Baden-Baden also offers other entertainment, including classical music concerts. The casino’s restaurant, The Grill, offers gourmet dining to visitors who want to take a break from the casino’s many games of chance.
Casino Wiesbaden, Germany – 1771 To Present Day
Germany definitely knows how to make its casinos last as it’s home to another casino even older than Casino Baden-Baden. Casino Wiesbaden is located at the Wiesbaden Kurhaus and first opened its doors in 1777, more than 50 years before Casino Baden-Baden welcomed its first guest. The casino’s architecture and design draw on the neoclassical tradition, which creates an atmosphere of opulence that elevates the experience of any visitor to this historic casino.
When you walk through its doors, you get to enjoy classic casino table games such as roulette, blackjack and poker, or you can spin the reels on over 190 slot machines that offer impressive cash prizes. Poker players can sit down for a quick game or settle in for a highly competitive poker tournament, depending on their needs. The Joker’S restaurant is the main dining venue for visitors to this iconic casino. Those who don’t want to lose too much playtime eating can just grab a quick drink at the K1 Bar.
Casino de Spa, Belgium – 1763 To Present Day
The oldest casino in Belgium and one of the oldest casinos on our list is the Casino de Spa, located in the city of Spa. This is another casino that used to be a palace and it definitely draws in visitors with its rich and royal atmosphere and aesthetics. After it opened its doors in the late 18th century, the casino became a popular destination for many members of high society. Unfortunately, gambling was banned during the French occupation of 1794. But fortunately, Napoleon signed a decree 12 years later that once again allowed the casino to welcome gamblers.
Contemporary visitors in search of a liaison with Lady Luck can enjoy almost 100 slots, blackjack, roulette and poker (which includes weekly tournaments). Visitors can satisfy their hunger at Le Grill du Casino which has a menu to cater to a variety of tastes, with everything made from the freshest ingredients.
Casinò di Venezia, Italy – 1638 To Present Day
The oldest casino, the Casino di Venezia, dates back as far as 1638 and is situated in Venice, Italy. It’s located in a magnificent three-story palace overlooking the Grand Canal and is featured in the remake of “Casino Royale.” The building itself is a striking example of Renaissance architecture and drips with sophistication and wealth. It also contains a theater and the palace – then known as Ca ‘Vendramin Calergi – which served to entertain the elite of Venice and Europe between acts of theater plays. Among the famous people who’ve played here are Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Giacomo Casanova and Lorenzo Da Ponte. Gambling was banned in 1774 and the house had to wait until 1959 to reopen as Casino di Venezia.
Today, this sophisticated establishment offers a taste of the high life, with dealers in tuxedos running casino games such as blackjack, roulette, poker and slots. Fine dining at the Wagner or Marco Polo restaurants completes the experience at this old casino.
Start Your Casino Tour at BetMGM
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