Gambling in Italy has deeply buried roots dating all the way back to the Roman Empire when Legionairres regularly played Ludus Duodecim Scriptorium, a rather wordy precursor to backgammon. With their conquest of Europe, the Romans brought roads, aqueducts and gambling to the rest of the continent.
The very first Italian gambling centre was opened in 1638 and known as a Ridotto until it was closed over a century later. The closure of Ridotto led to the emergence of a new gambling centre, a casino. Thus the casino was born and spread throughout the world.
In the Italy of today, gambling is heavily regulated by the government and as such the industry is not as free as it is in other areas of the world such as the UK. In spite of this, there are a plethora of must-visit casinos in Italy that offer visitor’s an exciting evening with the chance of winning big numbers.
Venice’s best casino
Not only is Venice a stunning place to visit, but it is also a hot spot for gambling and home to Casino di Venezia.
The city’s gambling establishments have come a long way since the Ridotto. Inside you’ll find tables for European roulette, American roulette, baccarat, chemin de fer, poker and a wide variety of other table games. The casino is located in a classical renaissance style stately home and overlooks the Grand Canal of Venice.
Venice Casino is renowned for its wide range of casino games. The roulette facilities are particularly impressive and the most popular amongst the variations of the game is European roulette. The main differences between American and European roulette are the order of the numbers and the fact that the European wheel only has one green pocket. The fact that there is only one green pocket in European roulette means the odds are more favourable to the player, so it’s easy to understand why visitors to the Venice Casino prefer this version of the game. Regular players employ different strategies and it’s important to find the one that’s right for you before your visit. Luckily, you can head online and play European roulette before you spin the wheel by the Grand Canal of Venice.
During international breaks and the summer period, the casino is often home to a host of Serie A footballers unwinding after tough matches. One of the most impressive features of the Casino di Venezia is the history, established way back in 1638, built by Mauro Codussi, it holds the title of the world’s oldest gaming establishment. The construction was completed in 1509, taking the form of a stately home for a short period.
In 1882, famous composer Richard Wagner was given hospitality on the mezzanine floor where he worked on the famous opera ‘Parsifal’, the floor has now been turned into a museum, dedicated to Wagner. If you have a passion for opera, or get tired of gambling, you can visit the Museum, where you’re sure to learn a thing or two about the great man! It’s no surprise that the dress code is smart, being such a resplendent venue, steeped in history – make sure you bring a tux with you!
Become a gambling champion at Campione Casino
If you’re a professional gambler or looking to make some serious money, then prioritise this casino above all other Italian iterations. The small town of Campione was built shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War and is an Italian enclave in Switzerland, only 60 kilometres from Milan.
The big benefit of its location is that Campione isn’t subject to EU VAT regulations, so is somewhat of a tax haven for trepid gamblers. Over the past few years the casino has undergone renovation to bring it into the 21st-century. Mario Botta, the famous Swiss architect, designed the new premises, building it next to the old building which dated back to 1933 and has since been demolished.
The renovation was certainly overdue but nonetheless impressive, it now boasts a floor space of more than 55,000 square metres, across 9 floors, with 3 levels of parking, leaving the casino with space for 56 tables and 500 slot machines. The interior of the venue is flanked by a stunning modern façade that overlooks a dazzling blue lake.
The dress code is smart casual, so you don’t quite need to wear a tux like you do in other venues, but you may wish you were when step you inside and are blown away by the décor. Campione Casino oozes history- you’ll be gambling with the knowledge that Mussolini’s defectors sought refuge here during the Second World War.
Casino De La Vallee
Saint Vincent, the home to this particular casino, is already popular amongst tourists and locals alike in Northern Italy due to the naturally occurring thermal spas that have Legionnaires for their therapeutic benefits.
Due to the overhang of a fascist dictatorship, Saint Vincent found it hard to gain a gambling permit from the Italian government, so instead sought one from the French government whom granted permission in 1946.
Since then, the idyllic casino has gone from strength to strength and now resembles one of the many glitzy resorts in Las Vegas. Customers are offered comps on arrival just like they are in Vegas, which entitles them to discounts in the designer stores and restaurants on site. The casino is surrounded by four of the highest peaks in Europe and is spread over two floors, covering 43,000 square feet. There are 600 slot machines and 90 table games, ensuring every visitor will find something to suit them.
The Casino de la Vallee is particularly popular among poker players, there is an exclusive poker room that hosts international and weekly tournaments. The casino is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Casino De La Vallee offers a huge range of games to visitors, including blackjack, chemin de fer, craps, poker, fairoulette Saint Vincent, telesina poker, American and French roulette, punto banco, quarante and, as previously mentioned, a mind-boggling amount of slot games.
If you were wondering about the origins of Legionnaires poker, then this is the place to find out. The card game, born in Sanremo, is a variation of 5-card stud and is played with a 32 card deck.
The 2,500 square metre facility is divided into several rooms, the largest of which offers the more traditional table games. In the slightly smaller gambling room there is Texas Hold ‘Em, blackjack and video-based games.
The casino was designed by French architect Eugène Ferret, opening way back in 1905. Similar to Casino di Venezia, Sanremo has always attracted prestigious guests, in the 1930’s, their clientele included Pietro Mascagni and Luigi Pirandello, both esteemed for their work in the entertainment industry.
Sanremo Casino is unique in its resilience, being the only casino to have remained open throughout 1924 when Mussolini ordered the closure of all gambling centres. However, the casino did shut its doors in 1940, undamaged by the war. The venue has taken on supreme cultural importance and has been used as the central location in some of the famous novels of Tommaso Landolfi, as well as the host venue for the Sanremo Music Festival.
Sanremo Casino is famed for its dedication to electronic gaming, it has six rooms devoted to electronic games, with 479 slot machines.
If you’re having a rough time at the tables you can retire to the on-site theatre which plays hosts to a mixture of classic and modern plays. After that you should take in the gourmet food available on the roof top.
Bingo Rouge et Noire
If you’re visiting Italy, then you’ll likely find yourself in Rome. Here in the capital you’ll find small, quaint venues for the discerning gambler.
Bingo Rouge is arguably the best casino in Rome, situated on the fairly central Via Salaria it tends to attract mainly tourists and is therefore incredibly welcoming. The staff all speak at least a basic level of English and the service is unrivalled.
As the name suggests, this venue is popular with bingo players and not considered a classic tourist spot. However, it’s something a bit different from the glitz and the glamour that we’ve featured already.
It is a quaint, cosy old-fashioned casino, thankfully bereft of the tacky decorations of Vegas style venues. There is a smattering of slot machines available to play, with the focus at Bingo Rouge being the table games. Just like all the casinos mentioned above, Bingo Rouge offers almost every table game imaginable.
The dress code is smart casual but the rules are slightly relaxed on poker competition evenings which are held twice weekly.