As the old adage goes, everything is bigger in America – from their burgers to their buildings. Probably one of the biggest places boasting the largest features in the US is, of course, Las Vegas, which is home to most of the world’s biggest casinos. In recent years, however, China has begun to overtake Vegas in this regard.
But these aren’t the only places where you will find mega-structures dedicated to the pursuit of gambling. Several countries in Europe are also home to massive casinos. What’s more, European casinos are generally older than those in the US and China, owing to prohibition in the former and communism in the latter.
Here’s our list, in ascending order, of the biggest casinos in Europe and the rich histories to which they lay claim:
Casino Estoril: Lisbon, Portugal
Opened way back in 1916, the Casino Estoril in Lisbon, Portugal, achieved some notoriety during the First World War as it was rumoured to be a secret meeting place for spies.
It now spans an impressive 2 500 square metres and features 1 235 slots and table games. These include more than 200 slot machines as well as roulette, baccarat and blackjack. The poker room at this venue is world renowned as a tournament destination for Pot Limit Omaha and No Limit Hold’Em. Other poker variants on offer include French Bank and Caribbean Stud poker.
The casino also features 10 bars and restaurants for gamblers to take a break from the floor and freshen up.
A rather unusual feature of the Casino Estoril is that, unlike most other casinos worldwide, this venue is closed some of the time. It operates from 03:00 to 15:00 from Sundays to Thursdays and from 04:00 to 14:00 on Fridays, Saturdays and public holidays.
The Casino at the Empire: London, United Kingdom
At 5 100 square metres, the Casino at the Empire in London is Europe’s fourth-largest casino. It is operated by international casino megalith, Caesar’s Entertainment and is situated in the old Victorian Music hall (The Empire) building in Leicester Square on the city’s iconic West End.
The Casino at the Empire is even older than the Casino Estoril and first opened its doors more than 130 years ago. It offers over 150 slots and table games, including punto banco, American roulette, pai gow, three-card poker, blackjack, and more. Like the Casino Estoril, the Casino at the Empire boasts a world famous poker room, which hosts regular high-profile tournaments.
For refreshment, Casino at the Empire patrons can visit the Carlsberg Sports Bar, the Icon Bar, and the casino’s restaurant.
Resorts World Birmingham: Birmingham, United Kingdom
Resorts World Birmingham is the youngest casino on this list, as it opened just a few years ago in 2015. Construction of the resort cost £150 million and took two years to complete.
Just shy of 5 500 square metres, Resorts World Birmingham is the largest casino in the United Kingdom. It is located in the NEC district of Birmingham and includes a spa, cinema, four-star hotel, restaurants, bars and shops, as well as over 200 slots and table games.
The resort offers a unique and varied gaming experience that includes private VIP rooms and fun “learn to play” sessions for inexperienced players. Games on offer include three-card poker, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, slots, and many more.
Casino de Monte Carlo: Monaco
Like the Casino Estoril, the Casino de Monte Carlo in the sovereign city state of Monaco is associated with spies. In fact, the Casino de Monte Carlo is known for the most famous (albeit fictitious) spy in the world – 007 himself. Legend has it that this iconic casino inspired Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. In addition to this, two Bond films, Never Say Never Again and Golden Eye, as well as Ocean’s Twelve were filmed at the Casino de Monte Carlo.
The Casino de Monte Carlo is also the oldest casino in the world, having opened in 1863, although it moved to a new location since then. The venue spans over 10 000 square metres. It offers over 300 slots and casino games and 18 bars and restaurants. Other features of the resort complex include the Grand Theatre de Monte Carlo and the Les Ballets de Monte Carlo.
Casino di Campione: Como, Italy
The largest casino in Europe is the Casino di Campione in Como, Italy. Opened in 1917, it is only a year younger than the Casino Estoril and also played a strategic role in the politics of World War I, largely because of its location within the borders of Switzerland. The casino was actually constructed with the specific purpose of attracting foreign diplomats to the region in order to extract secret information from them.
The resort changed locations in 2007, with the new 12-storey building designed by famous Swiss architect, Mario Botta. The year before, a cloud hovered briefly over the casino, when the son of the last king of Italy was accused of running a prostitution ring from the venue.
Today, the Casino di Campione spans almost 55 000 square metres and boasts some 556 table games and slots as well as three bars and restaurants.