Casinos can be many things. At one end, there are dingy, downtrodden locations that offer visitors nothing more than a few slots games. However, at the other end of the spectrum, the sky is the limit and casino designers continue to push the envelope by coming up with amazing new themes and architectural ideas. The modern day casino is so impressive that it is regularly featured in TV shows and movies (which have inspired some pretty cool posters, too). As such, casino areas like Las Vegas are growing in the number of visitors, with many just coming to see the impressive properties rather than to gamble.
The following are a few of the top locations that merit a visit by anyone even remotely interested in luxury and architecture.
It may be old school, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With an illustrious history and a permanent place in casino architecture, the Casino de Monte Carlo has long been a playground of the rich and the mere thought of the palatial grounds conjures up images of patrons dressed to the nines, Europe’s elite society, and of course, Bond movies. Dating back to the 1850s, Monaco’s premier gambling resort has been expanded to include much more than just the de rigueur table games – it also has a theater and countless other entertainment options.
In modern times, the Casino de Monte Carlo has gained almost mythical status and has become a must-see on any trip to the south of France. As gambling trends have moved away from table games and more to the skill-based game of poker, the casino has adapted in kind, playing host to the Grand Final of the European Tour each year. Attracting both professional and recreational players to try and outlast the field, the prize pool has continued to swell, with first place in 2014 awarding an impressive €1.24 million and making it one of the largest poker events on the continent.
In the parlance of our times, the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas was a game changer. Taking a new angle, Bellagio was the first modern casino to actively attract high-end gamblers by offering a level of luxury only found in places like the previously mentioned Casino de Monte Carlo. The architectural inspiration came from the city of the same name, which is located on Lake Como, a picturesque area in the north of Italy. The grand scale of the architecture trumped all others on the Vegas Strip and eventually led to the new breed of luxury casinos that now includes the Venetian, the Wynn, Aria, and several others.
Instead of focusing just on the gaming, architect Jon Jerde and concept man Steve Wynn also looked to how they could bring luxury to other parts of the resort as well. The fountains facing the strip were built to be one of the main draws, featuring synchronized movement to music on a scale that had never been seen before and is still one of the most iconic images of Las Vegas.
For the interior, the lobby was covered in more than 2,000 glass flowers created by the renowned artist Dale Chihuly and is one of the Bellagio’s signature pieces. Like many of the other high-end casinos in town, shopping options include top designers like Hermes, Christian Dior, and Chanel.
The ultimate addition to the casino to truly bring it into a world of luxury was the creation of the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art . Starting off with Wynn’s own personal collection of art, the gallery has become a center for traveling expositions and has seen collections from Warhol, Lichtenstein, Monet and other luminaries of the art world. In everything at the Bellagio, the primary goal was to create a feeling of luxury, from the decoration of the 3,015 rooms to the food at restaurant Picasso (which has two Michelin stars), to the gaming facilities.
With all the attention paid to detail, it’s no wonder that the largest regular poker game in the world takes place here in Bobby’s Room, a dedicated space for high stakes poker players that is frequented by legends of the game like Daniel Negreanu, Jennifer Harmon, and Phil Ivey.
In terms of size, the one casino that stands above the rest is the Venetian Macao. With Macau topping Las Vegas in the amount of money that is gambled each year, it is only fitting that the flagship casino is the biggest in the world. Featuring an awe-inspiring 10,500,000 square feet of space spread out over 39 floors, constructing the massive building was a $2.4 million affair. Fortunately, an existing design was already in place at the Las Vegas Venetian and many of the same elements can be found at both locations.
In addition to the obvious gaming space, the Venetian Macao offers visitors a vast variety of restaurants, bars, shopping, and entertainment options, including the Cotai Arena, which can seat up to 15,000 guests for important events. As could easily be guessed, the theme for the Venetian Macao (as well as its sister property in Las Vegas) is the city of Venice. To replicate the feeling of the prominent Italian landmark, artificial canals were installed, complete with gondoliers to guide boat rides through the property. The architectural style also incorporates elements and lines from the city, specifically Piazza San Marco, one of the most well-known points in Venice. As any who have been to the Venetian Macao can attest, it certainly is a sight to behold.
Casinos today are moving away from simply being about gambling and are now more focused on providing a complete experience to their guests. With this in mind, the design and architectural plans are going bigger and better, with outlandish new creations being conceived every day, complete with incredible entertainment, fabulous eating options, and plenty to do without hitting the tables or slot machines. Each of the examples listed above are true sources of inspiration and a special trip could be made to visit any of them. The architecture, design, and luxury offerings must be seen to be believed.