History of the casino
The word “casino” comes from Italian. It is derived from the word ‘casa’, meaning ‘small villa’ or ‘home’. It also used to mean something like ‘home entertainment’ in Italy. These were a kind of luxury theaters for the upper classes. The former Italian casa people were entertained with music, drinks, dancing, opera performances but also sports such as fencing and wrestling.
The Italian nobles frequently came to the casinos out of boredom and then, when entertainment and drinking got boring, they closed mutual bets on sporting events that were held. The bet was born and the casino slowly got another way of making profit.
The closing of the betting was done secretly, because the Italian authorities did not allow this in the entertainment houses. A group of people with too much to drink was already enough to cause chaos.
The first casino in 1638
Italy was formerly from various city states and was not one country as we know it. City-state of Venice decided first to play to legalize money in a casa and that was the first real legal casino a reality. The directors also had a good reason to do so because there was urgent need of money. By regulating the play, there tax could be levied on the profits of bookmakers who were active in the casino.
This first official casino called the Casino di Venezia and still exists. It is housed in an old palace on the Grand Canal, where you still can step in to gamble. Jacket is otherwise required!
Legal gambling in Belgium
After Italy, Belgium was the second country to officially allow casinos, this happened in 1763 when the Belgians built a casino in the town of Spa. Spa was at that time the major tourist center of the Ardennes for nobility and wealthy citizens. In 1789, however, the Liège Revolution broke out and not long after this gambling was banned. Until 1917 the building served alternately as a hotel, a theater, a spa, and every now and then also as a casino. In 1917 a large part of the casino was destroyed by fire.
Only in 1980, the casino was restored to its former glory and this classic and unique casino has been managed since 2003 by the Belgian gaming company Circus Groupe. The casino is worth a visit as it is a very beautiful building with a rich history.