Though it can’t quite compete in size or annual revenue with some of the other world-famous casino resorts, few are as famous, prestigious, or classy as the Monte Carlo Casino. Monte Carlo is the richest area of Monaco, which is the second-smallest independent nation in the world. It is also the world’s most densely populated country, and one of the most expensive places on Earth. Monaco is, in fact, a small city in Europe that was lucky enough to somehow make it into the modern era with full sovereignty. The history is long, and the reasons are many, but the bottom line is that Monaco was recognized as a sovereign state back in 1861, and apart from several dark years during the Second World War, has maintained its independence ever since.
A Long History of Gambling
Before Monaco was even recognized as an independent state by its neighbors, Monaco itself already recognized gambling as a legal pastime. Gambling was made legal in 1854, but only for people who were not citizens of Monaco. That same law still stands till this day. It is illegal for citizens to even enter the casino, and the royal family itself must use a side entrance when they wish to attend ballet and opera performances held in the building. The construction of the current complex started shortly after the law was passed, in 1858.
Monaco’s main source of income is tourism, and the Monte Carlo Casino Complex is the most famous of its tourist attractions. The complex includes the Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo, an opera and ballet house, and is surrounded by marvelous gardens. But most visitors come for the main attraction – the glamorous gambling facility. The casino was designed and built by Charles Garnier, the very same architect who created the Paris opera, and both are regarded as architectural masterpieces of their time.
High Rollers Heaven
Monaco has Europe’s most expensive real estate (as of 2007), and most of its inhabitants are millionaires from other countries. The main reason for this is, yet again, Monaco’s miraculous sovereignty. The state has no income tax for individuals, making it a tax haven for the rich. Needless to say, you will not encounter any illiteracy, poverty or crime on its streets. Monaco’s average age is 45, which makes it the highest in the world.
In case you were getting worried, you will also find a special ‘back room’ that hosts very high-stakes Poker games. How high? You’ll only know for sure if they ever let you in. Good luck with that!
The Big Screen
The Monte Carlo Casino has made several appearances in popular culture, most notably as the casino of choice for fictional British spy James Bond. Not only are some of Bond’s novels and movies set in fictional resorts that resemble the famous casino, but both Never Say Never Again and GoldenEye were actually filmed in Monte Carlo and its casino.