Not all casinos are used for gaming. The Catalina Casino, on Santa Catalina Island, California, has never been used for traditional games of chance, which were already outlawed in California by the time it was built. The Copenhagen Casino was a Danish theatre which also held public meetings during the 1848 Revolution, which made Denmark a constitutional monarchy. The Hanko Casino in Hanko, Finland—one of that town's most conspicuous landmarks—was never used for gambling. Rather, it was a banquet hall for the Russian nobility which frequented this spa resort in the late 19th century and is now used as a restaurant.
The precise origin of gambling is unknown. It is generally believed that gambling in some form or another has been seen in almost every society in history. From the Ancient Greeks and Romans to Napoleon's France and Elizabethan England, much of history is filled with stories of entertainment based on games of chance.
In American history, early gambling establishments were known as saloons. The creation and importance of saloons was greatly influenced by four major cities: New Orleans, St. Louis, Chicago and San Francisco. It was in the saloons that travelers could find people to talk to, drink with, and often gamble with. During the early 20th century in America, gambling was outlawed by state legislation. However, in 1931, gambling was legalized throughout the state of Nevada, where America's first legalized casinos were set up. In 1976 New Jersey allowed gambling in Atlantic City, now America's second largest gambling city.
Dr Alan Hirsch, founder of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, studied the impact of certain scents on gamblers, discerning that a pleasant albeit unidentifiable odor released by Las Vegas slot machines generated about 50% more in daily revenue. He suggested that the scent acted as an aphrodisiac, causing a more aggressive form of gambling.
Monte Carlo Casino has been depicted in many books, including Ben Mezrich's Busting Vegas, where a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students beat the casino out of nearly $1 million. This book is based on real people and events; however, many of those events are contested by main character Semyon Dukach. Monte Carlo Casino has also been featured in multiple James Bond novels and films.
The former Portuguese colony of Macau, a special administrative region of China since 1999, is a popular destination for visitors who wish to gamble. This started in Portuguese times, when Macau was popular with visitors from nearby British Hong Kong, where gambling was more closely regulated. The Venetian Macao is currently the largest casino in the world. Macau also surpassed Las Vegas as the largest gambling market in the world.
Machine-based gaming is only permitted in land-based casinos, restaurants, bars and gaming halls, and only subject to a licence. Online slots are, at the moment, only permitted if they are operated under a Schleswig-Holstein licence. AWPs are governed by federal law – the Trade Regulation Act and the Gaming Ordinance.
During the Second World War, it was reputed to be a gathering point for spies, dispossessed royals, and wartime adventurers; it became an inspiration for Ian Fleming's James Bond 007 novel Casino Royale.
Singapore is an up-and-coming destination for visitors wanting to gamble, although there are currently only two casinos (both foreign owned), in Singapore. The Marina Bay Sands is the most expensive standalone casino in the world, at a price of US$8 billion, and is among the world's ten most expensive buildings. The Resorts World Sentosa has the world's largest oceanarium.