Las Vegas considers itself to be the Gambling Capital of the World, and this is by no means an exaggeration. Las Vegas is the home of casino gambling, which is why it attracts so many tourists and high-rollers every year, eager to play cards, dice or to pull some slots. Outside of Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Reno and Florida top the bill when it comes to great gambling destination for those who can’t make it to Sin City. But it’s not all about the United States, and although they’re not as popular or as well known, Europe has some of the best casinos in the world.
Gambling in large parts of Europe is also an integral part of the culture, it’s something that is legally all over and widely embraced as a great pastime time that keeps the tax coffers full. Of course Europe is by no means small, and getting from one country to another can involve a great deal of travel, which is why we have broken this article up into separate regions.
Northern Europe consists of the United Kingdom and all of the countries in Scandinavia. It’s a little colder up there, especially for those who are used to the baking heat of Nevada desert, but if this is the case then try to visit during late spring or the summer, when temperatures are a little more comfortable.
England tops the bill when it comes to the best casinos in Northern Europe. The English love to gamble and blackjack is a hugely popular game in all of these casinos. London has the best casinos, but you can also find some classy venues in other major cities such as Leeds, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle. Further afield, in Wales, Scotland and Ireland, there are also plenty of places to gamble. In Edinburgh and Aberdeen for instance, both located in Scotland, you will find plenty of casinos and other nightlife, including nightclubs, strip clubs and more.
The smaller cities and towns also have options when it comes to gambling, and that applies throughout the United Kingdom. In fact, regardless of where you stand on a British high street you’ll always be within a stone’s throw of a bookmakers, where you can bet on everything from sport to politics and where you can also play some slot machine games known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.
Some of the best casinos in London include Aspers (a brand that also has a venue in Newcastle and other cities), The Casino at the Empire, Crockfords, Palm Beach and the Ritz. Outside of the capital, be sure to check out Circus Casino in Birmingham, Maxim’s in Derby and the Grosvenor Casinos, which are located in small towns and big cities up and down the country. Bingo is also very popular here, and you can also find blackjack and poker tournaments everywhere from the big card rooms and casinos, to small pubs and clubs. It doesn’t matter where you are in the country, gamblers are always catered for.
Outside of the United Kingdom, In Finland, the Grand Casino Helsinki is the biggest casino in the country. Gambling is big business here and the natives love it, especially when it comes to card games such as blackjack and poker. In Finland the majority of gambling is done in licensed premises such as restaurants and clubs, making the Grand Casino Helsinki one of the only casinos in the country. There is plenty of poker, blackjack and more available here, and what makes this venue so special is that all of the casino’s profits go towards local charities, assisting with those suffering from gambling addiction and more.
Gambling in Norway is mostly illegal, but there are some licensed gambling operates, and places where you can bet on sports, lotteries and bingo. When it comes to casinos, and blackjack in particular, your best bet is a casino cruise such as the Norwegian Star. Here you are promised the “most friendly” blackjack game at sea. These cruises also have high-roller tables where the minimum bets are $100 a hand, and there are plenty of slots available as well. Sweden is a little more accessible when it comes to gambling and the Casino Cosmopol tops the lot. Located in Stockholm, this glitzy establishment is perfect for those looking for gambling and entertainment, with banks of slot machines and table games alongside singers and other performers. There is also a bar and a restaurant and a sports room where you can bet on and watch your favourite sport. This is Sweden’s only international casino and only those aged 20 and over can gain access.
Gambling in France isn’t very straightforward, but there are casinos and card rooms here and a good game of blackjack is never too far away. In Paris there are close to a dozen casinos, including the Cercle Anglais, the Cercle Clichy Montmartre and the Association Circle Eldo. If you’re looking to bet big and stay classy, check out the Aviation Club de France. Located in one of the most beautiful areas of the city, in view of the Arc d’Triomphe, this historic venue is the perfect place for a game or two of blackjack and/or poker. It can set you back a significant amount just to enter, but it is worth it for the experience alone.
Some other great places to play blackjack in France include Casino Barriere de Deauville in Deauville and the Casino Barriere La Rochelle in La Rochelle, the Casino Grand Cafe de Vichy in Vichy and the Palais de la Mediterranee in Nice. There are plenty of casinos throughout the country, but you’ll always find the biggest and best ones in the major cities.
In the Netherlands, Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the go-to destinations. They are not as big on gambling as you would imagine for such great nightlife destinations, but there are a couple of smaller casinos that offer games of blackjack and more. You are unlikely to find anything in the Netherlands outside of these cities though. In Austria and Germany head for the main cities, Vienna and Berlin are beautiful cities to explore and they also play host to stops on the European Poker Tour, hosting some of the biggest gamblers and best poker players in the world. There are also card rooms and casinos in other beautiful cities such as Munich, Hamburg and Cologne in Germany, and Salzburg in Austria.
Belgium is also a great gambling destination, although many can be put off by the admission process which requires passports and fingerprint scans. This ensures that they keep criminals out of the casino and therefore create a safe and friendly environment for everyone. You need to be at least 21 to get into a Belgian casino and there are plenty to chose from, including the Casino Knokke, Casino Middelkerke, Casino Spa and Casino Brussels. These are often open during the day and well into he early hours of the morning, but the opening times are entirely dependant on the casino. Head for Brussels if you want a true taste of Belgian life, experiencing the best casinos in the country, and if you tire of city living then take a trip to Historic Bruge for some relaxation.
One of the best places to gamble in Western Europe is inside the famous Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco. This casino have featured in many films and is a very high-class establishment. James Bond has played here, so it’s probably no surprise that the dress code calls for tuxedos for men and smart dresses for women. You can find everything from blackjack to slot machines and poker, but you will need to show your passport at the door, as citizens of Monaco are not allowed to gamble inside and the casino is only for tourists. Monaco itself is a very rich and very lively destination, and it’s capital Monte Carlo plays hosts to events such as the Monaco Grand Prix.
If you want to grab some sunshine whilst you gamble, then the countries in the south could be just what you are looking for. In Greece for instance, a country made up of many sun-drenched islands, you can enjoy a casino lifestyle not unlike that in Atlantic City. The Club Hotel Casino in Loutraki is one of the biggest and best in the countries, a resort complete with everything you could need for a good night out. There are over 1.000 slot machines here and over 80 table games. In the capital of Athens, check out Regency Casino Mont Parnes, whilst if you’re in the islands of Rhodes or Corfu then head for Casino Rodos and Casino Corfu respectively. Xanthi and Thessaoniki also have casinos, and all 8 of the casinos in this country are spread out, covering the many islands and the mainland.
Equally full of sunshine, great food and the simple life is Italy, and you can also find plenty of casinos and card rooms here as well. If you head for Venice, one of the most romantic cities in the world, then you can play cards in the Casino Venice, whilst in Saint-Vincent you can enjoy the lights and glamor at Casino de la Vallee. In Sanremo, at the Casino Sanremo, you can play on the same poker tables that host the European Poker Tour Sanremo, an event that has been won by some of the biggest names in the game.
There are also plenty of casinos in Spain, the best of which are in Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla and Valencia. There are more casinos here than in Greece and Italy put together as the Spanish love to gamble. Whatever region you find yourself in there will always be a place to gamble, including in the British controlled territory of Gibraltar, located at the southern tip of the country.
Quickly finding popularity as a great summer holiday destination, you can also find plenty of action in Croatia. The paradise island of Dubrovnik has the Golden Sun Casino whilst in the more densely populated city of Zagreb you can find over a dozen card rooms and casinos, including another Golden Sun Casino, the casino International and several casinos under the Admiral Automat Club brand.
Russia is the biggest country in Europe yet it only has three legal casinos, which comes as a big surprise to many. There are no casinos in the major cities either, which is also a surprise, and the three casinos in question are located in the holiday resort town of Azov-City. These casinos, the Pracul, Shambhala and Nirvana, are all built to European standard and have a number of games of blackjack. Outside of Russia, there is better action to be found in the small country of Slovenia, where there are several high-end resorts and casinos. The Perla Casino and Hotel is the biggest of these and can rival any casino in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, with close to 120 gaming tables and well over 1.000 slot machines on offer. There are also areas for high-rollers and VIPS, and guests can enjoy a drink or some fine dining before, after or during play. Other casinos in Slovenia include the Casino Kobarid and the Casino Kranjska. There are five casinos in total in the country but this number seems to be growing as Slovenia becomes an increasingly popular tourist destination.
The Czech Republic, and the city of Prague in particular, is one of the biggest hotspots of tourism in Eastern Europe and there are plenty of casinos and card rooms to cater for all of those tourists. Visitors to these establishments only need to be 18 or over and there are plenty to choose from. Outside of Prague there isn’t much, but there are a few smaller venues.
As is the case with Russia, there isn’t much in the way of casinos in the rest of Eastern Europe. You will find them in the popular tourists haunts, but when it comes to tourism it is the destinations in the south and the west of the continent that are the most popular. Overall though, the best hot spots for gambling are in the United Kingdom. There is plenty there for everyone and if you stay closer to London then you can see the best that the country has to offer. Monaco wins out with the best casino of them all, but outside of the Monte Carlo Casino there is nothing. If you want a great holiday destination along with your gambling experience, then you’re probably better off in Italy to Greece, although avoid the mainland with the latter as the islands are the places to be and also have some of the best casinos. Croatia, as already mentioned, is also an ideal destination for tourists and you’ll struggle to find a more beautiful and idyllic town than Dubrovnik, which also caters for the gambling crowd.