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Italy’s Casino History: Exploring the Rich Traditions and Architectural Marvels





Italy, a land famous for its cultural heritage and stunning architecture, is also deeply intertwined with the world of gambling. Interestingly, the word “casino” itself derives from the Italian word “casa,” meaning “house” in English. For those who are guests of real money casinos such as Conquistador, this can be quite surprising and new information. Originally, it referred to small social clubs or elegant villas where noble families would gather for intellectual pursuits, musical performances, and sporting extravaganzas. This delightful article takes you on a journey through Italy’s captivating casino history spanning centuries, beginning in the 1630s all the way up to modern times. Prepare to discover the enchanting traditions and architectural marvels that have shaped Italy’s vibrant casino culture.

Beginnings of Italy’s Casino Legacy: 17th Century Venice

The year 1638 marked the opening of a groundbreaking establishment in Venice – and even Europe as a whole. Known as the Ridotto, this opulent venue had the distinction of being the first legal gambling spot on the continent. Initially established to regulate and oversee gambling activities during the annual festivities of Venice Carnival, it swiftly caught on with both aristocrats from Venice and visitors from afar. The remarkable part? The Ridotto operated successfully for more than a century until it ultimately met its end in 1774. Authorities deemed its impact to be contrary to public morals, leading to its closure after many years of operation.

Then and Now: Notable Italian Casinos

Gambling history owes a great deal to various casinos, which have not only played a major role in the industry but also made remarkable contributions architecturally.

Casino di Venezia

The Casino di Venezia, Europe’s oldest casino, occupies the historic site once known as the Ridotto.


Since its establishment in 1946, it has risen to become one of Italy’s most renowned casinos – a true icon. With its elegant and storied past, the building showcases magnificent Venetian Gothic architecture from the 15th century, making it an irresistible destination for tourists. Beyond offering an extraordinary gambling experience, Casino di Venezia regularly hosts cultural events and art exhibitions that further enrich its allure.

Casino de la Vallée

Located in the charming Italian Alps, the Casino de la Vallée stands as a testament to classical architecture. Its grand palace-like exterior exudes opulence and draws in gambling aficionados from far and wide. But this casino is more than just a beautiful façade; it boasts an extensive array of games and entertainment choices that solidify its status as a premier attraction in the area.

Sanremo Casino

Established in 1905, Sanremo Casino holds a significant place in Italy’s long history of casinos. Situated amidst the captivating Ligurian Riviera, this architectural marvel is a splendid union of Liberty and Art Nouveau designs. Its garden terraces and majestic archways have inspired countless works of art, literature, and music throughout the years. While it undoubtedly offers an enticing gambling experience, Sanremo Casino also hosts regular live music shows and theatrical performances to captivate its visitors.

Influences on Culture and Beyond

With influences extending far beyond mere architecture and gameplay, the history of Italian casinos holds significance that permeates society in various forms.


In fact, Italy was home to the world’s first academic institution dedicated to gambling – the University of Gambling Studies, founded in Rome back in 1632. The rich gambling heritage is evident not only through popular card games like Scopone and Briscola but also through lottery-style games such as Lotto and Tombola.

Contemporary Casino Landscape

In today’s contemporary landscape, Italy now boasts four legalized brick-and-mortar casinos operating within its borders. These include Casinò di Venezia, Casino de la Vallée, Sanremo Casino, and Casino di Campione – the latter being a remarkable establishment that faced financial turmoil leading to bankruptcy and closure in 2018. Despite having a limited selection of land-based options, Italian adults have abundant access to online gambling platforms since online gambling became regulated in 2011.


A captivating journey awaits those who explore Italy’s illustrious casino history. Dating back to the 17th century, this journey encompasses a fascinating medley of architectural wonders, cultural influences, and societal growth. From Venice’s renowned Ridotto to the modern Casino di Campione, Italian casinos have evolved into more than mere gambling establishments – they now stand as cultural landmarks that beckon tourists and avid gamblers alike. By immersing oneself in the realm of Italian casinos, one can uncover a rich tapestry of history and indulge in thrilling gaming experiences. These establishments play a pivotal role in shaping Italy’s enduring legacy.

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