Casinos come in all sizes and shapes and even have transcended beyond the traditional brick and mortar establishments to the wonders of the online world. With all these casinos available worldwide, one may wonder when and where it started. Who initiated this global phenomenon loved by so many? Well, wonder no more for today, let’s look at the world’s oldest casino—the Casino di Venezia.
Casino di Venezia
Home to one of the world’s oldest and most powerful civilization, Italy also holds the distinction of starting the casino industry and it is no wonder. The country holds the world record of having the largest number of World Heritage Sites with fifty-five. It is also the fifth most visited country in the world. Truly, Italy’s pioneering the casino craze is but a reflection not only of its cultural wealth, but also its social influence and world importance in general.
Casino di Venezia did not start as some old tavern, or low-level establishment that offered casino services and grew as time went along. In fact, it started big. In fact, not even your ordinary definition of big, it was built as a palace. Yes, you read that right, the world’s first and oldest casino is a palace. Built in the 15th century, the palace opened in 1638 as the “Theatre Saint Moses” with a wing for gambling every play intermission.
Italian architect Mauro Codussi designed the palace drawing inspiration from his famous church designs. Nobleman Andrea Loredam, a renowned art collector, commissioned the building and had put paintings made by celebrated Italian painters including Gian Battista Crosato, Palma il Giovane, and Mattia Bortoloni.
The act quickly caught the masses attention and leads Italy and later the world, in the establishment of then contemporary casinos. It is of no surprise that by 1744—only a mere century later and in the time when buildings and palaces take hundreds of years to finish, over 120 casinos may be found in Venice alone.
Ca’ Vendramin Calergi, the name of its casino wing, for a time also served as an official residence of the Italian royalty. It even frequented by the famous German composer Richard Wagner from 1858 until his death in 1883. In honor of Wagner, there exist a restaurant and a museum inside the building which bears his name and still operational today.
The city of Venice formally bought the palace and transformed it to the contemporary casino that it is today. It has gotten the world attention it deserved and has been featured in Hollywood films such as the Casino Royale. Truly fit for a James Bond movie, the building preserved its Renaissance design, with modern lightings, felt ropes on its handrails, crystal chandeliers, and even vintage mirrors from Murano glassmakers.
Today, many elite casino players and casual enthusiasts visit Casino di Venezia to experience and brag its history. Classic games may be played there including roulette, blackjack, Caribbeadn stud poker, and even has Texas Hold’em, Chemin de Fer, and Trente et Quarante. In addition, modern slot machines scatter the whole palace. The casino itself never lost its authenticity and continues its legacy by providing some of the world’s best casino services including the residence of the World Poker Tour.