Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Gambling French-style

Gambling has been part of the life of the earliest man. In China, India, Egypt, Greece and Rome, gambling was very much a part of the recreation of the people as proven by archeologists. Landlords with nothing to do but gamble during the day, soldiers in camp wager their salaries or their loot to kill their boredom.

The French, particularly Monaco, however, brought gambling into its new heights of the present. It introduced the spunk and glitz in gambling and drew the attention of the wealthy with enough cash to splurge. Soon the noblemen, monarchs and landlords of Europe flocked to the resort strip of Monaco in the French Riviera to watch Formula 1 races, boxing matches, and shows and of course, to gamble, relax and live in style. The casinos, as we know it today, were born.

Monaco's transformation, however, came at the most difficult time in its history. It has been a favorite prey by invading neighbors like Spain, Rome and Italy and waging wars almost on a regularity sent the country almost to bankruptcy. Unlike other kingdoms where kings could just impose taxes, Monaco could not. Even if it could, how much can it rise from a population of just a few thousand people? Even at present, its biggest District Monte Carlo only has a permanent population of 3,000 people.

So, King Charles III of Monaco looked for inspiration. He saw it in the thriving gambling halls of Germany. And so he gambled on gambling to bring in the people from other places to spend their money in the strip. He allowed two enterprising Frenchmen in 1856 to establish a resort facility on the tiny sea front, some sort of a spa, reportedly to cure diseases and then build gambling centers around. It was great branding even to today's standards.

The combination of the resort and the casino – relaxation and gambling – became lethal and people flocked to Monaco making it one of the richest kingdoms in Europe. The recipe of vacation and gambling coming together is still being followed up to this day. Just look at Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Macau. They are not just casino and gambling centers, they are exotic destinations for entertainment, vacation and relaxation.

It was also in Monaco that the most popular game in all casinos of the world became known. The roulette was a mainstay in the Monaco casinos of Charles III, and it proved to be very popular among gamblers and became just another contribution by the French, aside of course from the stylish French-style gambling.

Although there are other versions of the game, the more complicated American roulette and the deadly crazy Russian roulette, the game originated in France. The term roulette itself means small wheel in French. Some say the game was actually invented by the mathematician Blaise Pascal and some say it was a Chinese, who invented it. One thing for sure though, the modern game was developed by Francois and Louis Blanc in 1842 and was introduced into Monaco by the end of the century. Another point for the French.

At present, Monaco with the district of Monte Carlo in particular attracts close to half a million visitors annually. More than that, Monaco and Charles III contributed the glitz and the glamour that has highlighted so many other cities and the world gambling industry up to the present.