Outside of the United States the most popular and glamorous gambling destination is Monte Carlo. Gambling in Monte Carlo is centered about the Monte Carlo Casino, which is as much a tourist spot as it is the Mecca for gamblers.
The history of the Monte Carlo Casino is about 150 years old. In 1854 Prince Florestan I of Monaco legalized gambling so as to generate revenue for the state. The first casino was opened in 1856 in a villa near the harbour. Prince Charles III had a greater vision for the future and ordered the construction of a new quarter called Monte Carlo. The plan included a grand new casino, which we now know as the Monte Carlo Casino. Charles Garnier, who was the architect of the Paris opera, designed the casino in the Baroque style. The construction of the casino began in 1858. A 50-year concession to operate the gambling rooms was granted to Francois Blanc. Blanc at that time had been running casinos in some smaller towns in Germany. Gambling was outlawed there and hence the opportunity to run the Monte Carlo Casino came as a god send.
The Monte Carlo Casino opened to the public in 1863. Initially things did not go well for Blanc. He was unable to draw sufficient clientele to be able to pay his fee to the state. At that time the roulette wheels in Europe had 0 and 00. Blanc had been operating wheels with only 0 in Germany so as to give players an advantage. He introduced those wheels in the Monte Carlo Casino. Since then the casino has grown from strength to strength. Incidentally the single 0 roulette wheel became the standard in Europe after that. The Monte Carlo Casino has had many exciting moments that have been recorded in history. But the most outstanding one is when Joseph Jagger broke the bank in 1873. At that time the bank was referred to the money held on a table by the croupier and not the entire resources of the casino. Jagger discovered a bias in one of the casino’s roulette wheels and exploited the bias by breaking the bank several times. In 1891, a con artist named Charles Wells played at the Monte Carlo Casino with borrowed money. Using the worthless Martingale Doubling system he hit the roulette wheels and struck lucky. He became the second man to break the bank at the Monte Carlo Casino.
In 1898 the concession was taken over by the Societe des Bains de Mer, which is a private company with a substantial government stake and which still runs the casino. 1n 1910 a theatre was added to the casino complex.
The Monte Carlo Casino has featured in many movies, the most notable ones being from the James Bond series. Some of the movies that had scenes shot at the casino include Never Say Never Again and GoldenEye. Today apart from the regular casino games, poker is a major attraction at the Monte Carlo Casino. Since 2004, the casino hosts its own poker tournament, the Monte Carlo Millions. One of its most famous winners is the poker professional Phil Ivey. The Monte Carlo Casino also hosts the finals of the European Poker Tour.