The word Casino derives from Italian and means “little house”. The term was originally used to describe any building dedicated to pleasurable social gatherings, not exclusively gambling. It was in this sense that the name was given to the oldest casino in the world; the Casino di Venezia. This was opened in 1638 by the city of Venice as a solution to the problem of illegal gambling. And the name casino became associated with places where this activity took place.
Casino Fashion in Europe
Despite the Italian origins, casinos, as we know them today, originated mainly in the luxurious German spa resort of Bad Homburg. Here, the upper classes of Europe gathered to enjoy the health benefits of the spa during the day, and win and lose fortunes in the evening. When the German government of the time outlawed gambling, operations moved to what would become, for a while, the most famous gambling resort in the world, Monte Carlo.
This is why most people, when they think of casinos, picture tuxedo-clad men and ladies in elegant evening gowns crowding around high-stakes games of baccarat and roulette. Casinos and gambling were subconsciously linked with style and elegance, and this association is still strong, even with so much gambling taking place online. Developers take great care to continue the tradition of stylish elegance, which can be seen in the huge number of attractive online slot games, for example. The idea that one should dress up for a night at the casino, much as you would for the theatre, remains rooted firmly in the collective consciousness of Europeans.
Casino Fashion in the U.S.
The situation was somewhat different in the United States. While some elegant gambling establishments could be found on the Eastern seaboard, they were not the norm. As settlers spread out across the West, they took to gambling in saloons and even makeshift gambling dens housed in tents and with portable roulette wheels. As cowboys, trappers, miners, and the other early settlers sought to relieve the hardship of their day-to-day lives with a bit of gambling of an evening, gambling venues lost some of their mystique. After all, most cowboys didn’t roam the ranges with a tuxedo in their saddlebags.
Of course, once casinos became established businesses in places like Las Vegas, first and foremost, dress codes were reintroduced. However, these weren’t half as stringent as in Europe. The staff had to look the part, of course. But while guests were still expected to dress smartly, the whole black-tie thing went out the window.
Nowadays, some of the most famous casinos in the world are actually giant resorts. Just one example is the Venetian, Macau, which has a total of 3,000 rooms, along with a gaming space of 550,000 sq ft (51,000 m2). In circumstances like these, the dress code becomes very relaxed, and even shorts and a t-shirt are acceptable attire on the floor.
Whether this is a good thing or not really depends on your personal point of view. However, especially in Europe, most casinos still have a dress code that requires some degree of smartness, and some venues still expect their patrons to go the whole nine yards in terms of evening wear. Dressing up for an evening of gambling is definitely not a thing of the past, although there is a much more comprehensive range of what is acceptable compared to days of yore. Unless you’re gambling online, of course!