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Casinos have always been places of glamour and excitement. Buildings where fortunes are won and lost on the spin of a roulette wheel or the turn of a card. So it’s not surprising that some of the world’s greatest architects have been commissioned to create larger than life pleasure palaces where, for a few hours at least, almost anyone can be swept up in to a whole new world.
Perhaps the greatest examples can be found in the world’s two major gaming capitals, Las Vegas and Macau, but there are also prime examples which hark back to an earlier time.
Caesars Palace in Las Vegas is perhaps the quintessential example of grand casino design. Originally opened in 1966 the subsequent fifty years have seen many additions,the most recent of which was the Octavius Tower competed in 2012. The overall style of the building is Graeco-Roman filtered through a Hollywood vision of the ancient world. To complete the effect there is also a great deal of statuary adorning the building including a 20 ft high Julius Caesar who greets visitors in the entrance.
Water features also play a large part at Caesars Palace but they are not as iconic as the fountains of Bellagio which, memorably, featured in the final scene of the 2001 film Ocean’s 11. Built on the site of the legendary Dunes Hotel, Bellagio takes its inspiration from Lake Como in Italy and is famous for its elegance. If the façade is impressive the interior is even more breath taking, featuring Fiori di Como, 20,000 individually hand-blown flowers that cover 2000 square feet of its lobby ceiling.
Moving to Asia, and Macau, there’s one casino that stands out above all the rest – the Grand Lisboa. Not only is it the tallest building in the city at 47 storeys and 261 metres high, its design is intended to express the vibrant and daring of the region – a million miles away from the angular skyscraper designs so often used in high rise buildings. It’s also famous the world over for its poker room and it was also the first casino in the region to start playing the online poker favourite Texas Hold’em.
The vision that lay behind the design of the Venetian Macau was just as impressive. It’s not just created the world’s largest casino at 550,000 square feet, it has also recreated the canals and waterways of Venice 5,600 miles away from the original. As well as the spectacular casino it also features the 15,000 seat Cotai Arena which is a regular stopping off point for some of the world’s biggest performing artists.
For a good example of how great original architecture can be re-purposed one only has to look at the Adelaide Casino that occupies the city’s old railway building which was originally completed in 1856. By retaining the original heritage-listed façade it creates a genuinely grand entrance to what, by global standards, is a relatively modest casino with around 90 gaming tables and 950 gaming machines.
So these all go to show the huge range of styles and approaches that go into casino architecture – but all do have one thing in common. That’s that they reflect the wealth that players hope to create for themselves each time that they visit.