Historic, glamorous, and loaded with world-class games and amenities, the top European casinos have stood the test of time and remain huge attractions. Standing as a testament to the continent’s love of all things gambling, you’ll struggle to find classier establishments anywhere in the world.
While many cite ancient China as the birthplace of many gambling casino games, it’s Europe that refined the practice. Venice, Italy, remains home to the oldest casino in the world. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Paris was established as the veritable gambling capital of the world, where aristocrats would amass for lots of high-stakes wagering.
While Las Vegas and Macao heavily advertise themselves as the ultimate gambling cities, the storied establishments of Europe continue to go strong, quietly offering world-class, dignified gambling experiences. Here, we’re exploring the top European casinos, which include Casino Estoril, Casino de Monte-Carlo, and Casino di Venezia.
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Looking across the Schweiz Italia onto Switzerland, Casino di Campione is one of the oldest casinos in Italy. Not only this, but as its closure in 2018 proved, it’s also the lifeblood of the Campione d’Italia municipality. When the venue was closed down for bankruptcy, the town lost some €40 million (CAD 58.68 million) each year, which covered nearly 90 percent of all expenses, and 600 locals were left unemployed.
Luckily for the local people and casino lovers around the world, the forced closure was ruled illegitimate in 2019. Confirmed as such in the summer of 2021, Casino di Campione opened its doors once more in 2022. Still open to this day, those who visit the 54,000 square feet venue get to explore nine floors of entertainment. Those floors feature over 50 table games and a selection of over 500 slot machines.
Established in 1917, the casino was originally meant for spying on foreign diplomats during World War I. When it reopened in 1933, it became a fully-fledged tourist destination. In 2007, it moved to a better spot, expanding greatly to offer an even more expansive and neon-lit European gambling experience. The venue also hosts an array of live music performances and shows, as well as the famed La Terrazza gourmet restaurant.
West of Lisbon and a bit beyond where the river Tagus meets the Atlantic Ocean, Casino Estoril stands as one of the largest casinos in Europe. Construction began in 1916, but the venue didn’t open until 1931. Once it did, Casino Estoril became a centerpiece of the ever-popular Portuguese Riviera. You can walk from Tamariz beach, through the beautiful courtyard, and straight into the gaming hall.
While Casinò di Campione was established to facilitate espionage in World War I, Casino Estoril is said to have been more of a neutral haven during World War II. Spies of the Axis and Allied powers, adventurers, and royals who were forced to flee their lands would gather here. Later, the venue would prove to be inspirational for a certain Ian Fleming, who’d go on to pen Casino Royale for publication in 1953.
Situated towards the coast in Cascais, Casino Estoril is said to be one of the largest of the top European casinos. It features a 1,000-capacity showroom, an auditorium fit for over 300 people, and a gaming hall that features over 1,000 slot machines alone. Just over from the poker, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, Banca Francesa, and Caribbean Stud Poker tables, you’ll find the world-class Mandarim Cantonese restaurant, Bistrô restaurant, and Zeno Lounge.
Housed by the Ca’ Vendramin Calergi, which has stood since the 15th century, the Casinò di Venezia and Museo Wagner share the palace to make it one of the most culturally significant venues of the 126-island city. You can reach the storied gambling house via gondola just off of the Grand Canal in the Cannaregio quarter, down from Fort St. Angelo.
The three-story palace first housed Casinò di Venezia in 1638, before the entertainment hub of the continent decided to move in the 1950s. Now, it’s back on the river and continues to be open to the public. Those staying as a guest in a hotel in Venice can even get free access if the hotel provides written credit beforehand. Otherwise, the €50 (CAD 73.35) admission card will also grant you €20 (CAD 29.34) of free betting chips.
While not the largest of the top European casinos, what Casinò di Venezia lacks in size, it more than makes up for in regal elegance. The building itself is considered to be among the most iconic in Venice, and the casino rooms feature stunning décor. Still, the gaming certainly hasn’t been held back by the venue’s historical roots. With over 600 electronic game machines and tables of French roulette, Chemin de Fer, the novel Fair Roulette, blackjack, and Punto Banco, visitors get that classy VIP experience whenever they visit Casinò di Venezia.
Casino de Monte-Carlo exudes class and elegance. Set in Place du Casino, the opulent courtyard welcomes all who aren’t residents of Monaco itself. You see, all Monegasques are banned from the gambling rooms of the building and have been since the days of Princess Caroline – who died in 1879. So, Casino de Monte-Carlo is strictly for the rich and famous thrill-seekers from overseas. It may seem harsh on those who call Monaco home, but the casino had long been the main source of income for the city-state’s economy.
The original building opened in 1865, but in the years since, its remarkable success as a hotspot for wealthy tourists has enabled several expansions. In the late 19th century, expansions on the casino building began and the opera house was added. Later, in 1880, the casino received another expansion, with more building work taking place in the decades since. Still, the original interior design of the auditorium remains.
With a mighty spread of 108,000 square feet, the gaming space at the Casino de Monte-Carlo stands among the largest in the world and certainly makes use of its floor space. Under its many Bohemian crystal chandeliers, players can visit the Salle Renaissance and Salon Touzet areas for slot gaming or find tables of French roulette, craps, Texas Hold’em poker, and blackjack everywhere else in the gaming rooms. Should you fancy a sit-down between gaming rounds, you can turn to restaurants like Le Salon Rose and Le Train Bleu or the Lounge Bar Salle Europe.
Found on the outskirts of the famed Black Forest, Casino Baden-Baden is but one part of the sprawling Kurhaus. In all, it’s a colossal spa resort, conference complex, and casino gaming house. The original structure, designed in 1824, always catered to a gambling hall, but it wasn’t until France outlawed the practice that Kurhaus’ casino gained international notoriety. To this day, Casino Baden-Baden prides itself on providing a classic gaming experience within its absurdly classy gaming rooms.
Germany’s oldest casino remains radiant in its aesthetic, offering a timeless mix of classic décor and illuminating chandeliers. Once hailed as the “most beautiful casino in the world” by actress Marlene Dietrich, it’s easy to see why the owners would be hesitant to change much of the interior. Helping to uphold this age-old opulence is the classical gaming selection. Blackjack and roulette are the focus of the table games, as are the poker cash games.
Still, this hasn’t stopped the casino from embracing more modern gambling creations. In the dedicated vault room, only the 140 slot machines illuminate the ceiling, creating a distinctly modern atmosphere for spinning the reels. Also on the Kurhaus grounds is the casino gift shop for unique souvenirs and present ideas as well as a famed restaurant. The Grill specializes in beef and sushi while set in an extravagant and exceedingly comfy dining room.
Thanks, in part, to being a staple of the billionaire’s playground that is Monaco and Formula One famously visiting its street every year, Casino de Monte-Carlo ranks as the most famous casino in Europe. To counter that, given its place in casino gaming history and appeal to residents and tourists alike, there’s a case to be made for Casinò di Venezia in Venice, Italy, to be the second most famous casino in Europe.
European countries have several casinos. Many of the top tourist destinations across Europe house at least one casino, with capital cities usually boasting at least one high-end casino. You could look to the Hippodrome Casino in London, UK, Spain’s Grand Madrid Casino Torrelodones, or the legendary Casino Loutraki near Athens, Greece, as prime examples beyond the top European casinos listed above.
By comparison of casinos to population, the Slovakian capital city of Bratislava comes out on top with 41 casinos for its population of just over 423,000 people. That said, the Czechia capital, Prague, boasts 60 casinos to dwarf other European cities.
Casino Estoril stands as one of the largest casinos in Europe with a total area of 590,000 square feet.
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