The second smallest country in the world sits noiseless at night due to laws prohibiting fly-overs. The shops of Prada and Valentino glow on a hillside in the stillness. Here, the rocky terrain is a mixture of lights, yachts and the statue of an American movie star turned princess.
Money rules Monaco.
But if you happen to be a local, the Monte Carlo Casino is off-limits. The citizens of Monaco are prohibited from playing here. In fact, you’ll be asked to show your passport at the door. Why would one of the principality’s main sources of revenue — gambling — be restricted from locals? No such laws exist in gambling towns like Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Unlike American gambling locales, Monaco keeps a close watch over her citizens.
Despite its current lean towards luxury, the principality has struggled financially over the years. Occupying only two square kilometers, Monaco is the most densely populated country in the world and once the only place Europeans could gamble after casinos were banned in France and Germany. Thanks to Princess Caroline, gambling institutions were constructed in Monaco as a means of keeping bankruptcy from befalling the House of Grimaldi. Unfortunately, from the lost tax revenues of seceding towns to the slow start of the gambling houses, Monaco struggled.
Yet Princess Caroline’s use of shrewd business techniques eventually convinced François Blanc, the operator of Germany’s Bad Homburg Casino to relocate. With the capital of 15 million francs, Blanc transformed the Casino. Named after Prince Charles, the Monte Carlo Casino employed designers of the Paris Opera House to create a provocative feminine design. Even the word casino echoes casina, a parlor for courtesans. Perhaps a nod to the woman who saved Monaco from financial ruin, the architecture of the casino still stands as both a testament to the Princess’s ingenuity and as a tourist staple where wealthy foreigners and James Bond-types come to break the bank.
While Monaco’s denizens may be restricted from throwing dice with 007, they benefit from a tax-free lifestyle. This luxury along with the restriction on gambling ensures Monaco’s citizens continue to live a life free from debt.