Traveling through Europe is quite a fascinating experience because there is plenty to see and to do. The continent has over 50 countries, all rich in heritage and history. One pastime that is enjoyed by many citizens and visitors to European nations is gambling. The continent has a number of prominent locations that are considered casino hotspots such as Monaco, the French Riviera and other less known locations like Poland and Croatia. These casino hotspots enjoy patronage from locals as well as tourists who are out to have some fun. Many European travel itineraries include stopovers at popular casinos or accommodation at casino resorts. The continent has some of the most lavish casino resorts in the world with many of them being ranked as 5-star establishments. Just like in many other parts of the world, some of the popular casino games in Europe include Slots, Roulette, Poker,Texas Hold’Em, Craps, Baccarat and Lotteries among many others.
Long before gambling 'meccas' such as Las Vegas existed, Europe was the epicenter of casino activities in the world. The first ever gambling establishments to operate in Europe appeared around the 17th Century. Gambling, though, was still a hidden pastime that was done in people’s homes or in army barracks and consisted of unregulated dice games. There were many periods of prohibition when gambling was banned and those found participating in the activity were prosecuted. The first publicly recognized gambling house in Europe was established in 1638 in Venice. It was owned by the government and considered the first ever official casino in Europe. Plenty has changed since then and now the continent boasts of some of the finest land-based casinos in the world that attract numerous visitors.
Europe has a number of superb gambling destinations that are frequented by both locals and tourists. Some of these locations include the following:
This little sovereign city-state is known as a great holiday destination and many of the visitors there try out their luck at the casinos that dot the city. Some of the more notable casinos in Monaco include Casino Café de Paris, Casino de Monte Carlo, Monte Carlo Bay Casino and several others. Many casinos are located within major hotels and resorts and the casino experience is often marketed as one of the features of holiday packages.
This small archipelago in the Mediterranean close to Sicily has steadily built its reputation as a casino haven for tourists. St.Julians in Malta is considered as the heart of gambling activities with a high concentration of casinos where visitors can play all the classic games such as Roulette, Slots, as well as table games. Some of the popular establishments include Dragonara Casino, Villa Rossa, Casino Malta, and Portomaso.
The gambling industry in the UK has experienced major growth and if this trend continues it may become Europe’s casino ‘mecca’. The last few years have witnessed an upsurge of Las Vegas-style casino complexes. An example of one of these recently built super casinos is the Aspers Casino which has close to 100 gaming tables, dozens of poker tables and close to 200 electric-powered gambling machines. The UK has the most robust gambling industry in Europe and has more than 100 brick-and-mortar casinos that are spread across various regions. Casino enthusiasts in the UK can enjoy a variety of games ranging from classics like Roulette, Craps, and Blackjack to more exotic titles such as Mahjong, Kalooki, Wheel of Fortune and Casino War. Poker is also a favorite of many players in the UK and one of the common features of any casino are the Poker rooms. The permitted gambling age in the UK is 18 years and in most casinos, proof of ID is usually required for any potential customer who looks underage.
Many people do not consider Germany as a viable gambling destination; however, the country actually has a rich casino history. The first ever gambling establishment in the country was known as Baden-Baden Casino and it was set up more than 100 years ago. Currently, there are over 100 casinos to choose from, spread across the country, mostly in the larger cities. Most casinos in the country are part of larger establishments. The majority of the casinos offer plenty of Slots and classic table games like Blackjack, Baccarat, Poker, and Roulette. Other significant locations in Germany with casinos include Berlin, Bavaria, Bremen, Lower Saxony and Hessen. Gambling laws tend to vary across different regions of Germany; however, most establishments require customers to be 18 years of age and over to participate in gambling activities.
Apart from the French Riviera, there are plenty of locations across inland France where people can enjoy a great casino experience. France actually has a rich history in the casino industry. Some of the oldest and most successful casinos are found in France and they include Casino Le Croisette, Casino de Biarritz, and Casino Barrier dEnghien-Les-Bains. Currently, there are over 200 brick-and-mortar casinos spread all over the country.
The situation in Ireland is a little bit awkward because casinos are considered illegal according to Irish law. Casino operators, however, have managed to legally bypass the law by capitalizing on a loophole that allows privately operated members-only clubs to offer set up gambling establishments. At the moment there are close to 20 casino clubs most of which are located in Dublin. Many of the casino members-only clubs make it easy for customers to access their gambling establishments by not charging any fee for membership. All the popular casino games can be played in Ireland and there are also regular Poker and Texas Hold’em tournaments.
Gambling was legalized in the year 2000 which is fairly recently and there are less than 50 land-based casinos in the country. Most of these gambling establishments are located in major cities like Zurich, Bern Lucern and Basel. Casinos located in Switzerland offer most of the classic casino favorites including Roulette, Slots, Blackjack and many more. Most casinos in Switzerland have daily cash games and regular tournaments such as the Swiss Poker Championship which is often held at the Grand Casino Baden. Players from neighboring countries like Germany, France, and Italy usually attend the tournaments.
This is a popular holiday destination with plenty of sun and sand. Over the past decade, there has been a steady upsurge of casinos and owners of these establishments are attracting both locals and international visitors. Most of the gambling establishments in Greece mirror the Las Vegas model. The majority of them are part of hotels or holiday resorts offering top notch accommodation, recreational sports among other attractions. One example of some of the impressive large scale establishments in Greece is Club Hotel Casino, Loutraki, which accommodates over 1000 slot machines and close to 100 game tables.
Currently, there are less than 50 casinos in the Netherlands and most of them are located in major cities like Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Rotterdam. All the casinos in the country are owned by a state-owned company known as Holland Casinos. There is a wide variety of games to choose from while in the Netherlands and they include Blackjack, Slots, Roulette, Baccarat/Punto Banco as well as games like Wheel of Fortune, Sic Bo, and Rocker 7. Casinos in the Netherlands give Slot players a higher chance of winning by offering a progressive jackpot worth millions of euros.
Despite the fact that many European countries have embraced gambling as part of their modern day pastimes, Finland is still hesitant to fully accept it. There are currently less than 10 land-based casinos and one of the more notable ones is Casino Helsinki, which is located in the capital, Helsinki. This impressive casino has 300 Slots, over 30 live gaming tables as well as a poker room.
Although Europe is often considered as a unified block of states due to the European Union, each country has specific laws and regulations regarding gambling. Individual countries have the responsibility of passing laws and ensuring that all regulations are adhered to. This ultimately means that there is no standardized regulation or legislation that applies uniformly across Europe. For instance, the UK, France, and Germany have a significant number of gambling establishments within their territories while the number of similar establishments in Finland is almost negligible. On the other hand, a country such as Malta forbids locals from gambling while allowing tourists to enjoy casino games and betting.
The destiny of conventional brick-and-mortar is greatly dependent on the impact of the internet-based gambling. Online platforms are increasing in popularity due to their easy access and convenience. However, there is a high possibility that land-based casinos could experience a renaissance and become a niche business for entertainment and leisure. This could help spur economies by providing jobs and creating more sources of taxes for governments. Many people may be opting for online casinos but there is still some novelty and nostalgia attached to land-based gambling establishments that are not about to die off just yet.