Ask what is the most popular casino in the Mediterranean and you’ll get a quick answer: Casino du Liban in Jounieh, Lebanon. It is where millionaires and high rollers play. Lebanon has been marred with so many political and religious intrigues, but Beirut and Jounieh have been known through the years as two of the most exciting cities in this part of the world. The casino may have had its ups and downs but today it continues to excite the wealthiest gamblers in the Middle East and Europe.
Other than the gambling and amazing people that come to play, the casino is known for its resilience. It opened on December 17, 1959 and became an instant hit. From 1962 to 1974, it was said to have amassed a whopping 290 million Lebanese pounds. However, the political problems that rocked the country weighed heavily on the casino. Civil war broke in 1975, creating catastrophic consequences not only on the casino but also the entire country.
Lebanon was enjoying fame, prestige and economic growth before the war. It was the gateway to the Arab world, which means international tourists coming for business or pleasure had to pass by the country, and often they would visit Casino du Liban to have some fun. This all changed.
The casino, symbol of Lebanon’s glory years, shut down several times from 1975 to 1989. Despite being closed to foreign clients, however, the casino somehow stayed afloat and raked in revenues from its shows. The high rollers and serious gamblers didn’t come. After the war ended in 1990, the casino had a grand re-opening in 1996 and somehow was able to pick up where it left off.
Today, the best games are found in this privately owned casino that is nestled on a hill overlooking Jounieh’s magnificent crescent bay. On the ground floor is the International Room with slot machines and 15 table games that include American roulette, blackjack, poker, and Punto Banco. There are 26 more tables in the Mediterranean room and 12 more in the luxurious golden room called Cercle D’Or Room. Minimum bets here start from LBP 25,000 to 50,000, but only privileged clients may come and play. The most privileged, on the other hand, get to play in either of the casino’s two private rooms.
The casino also offers fine dining, world-class shows and amazing entertainment. Although there are several restaurants along the gambling areas, the La Martingale restaurant offers a peaceful and elegant dining experience away from the game tables. It has an extended dining terrace that is perfect for outdoor dinners in summer and spring.
Casino du Liban was once visited by several royalties and VIPs including Hollywood star Omar Sharif, King Hussein of Jordan, Prince Albert of Monaco, the Shah of Iran, and billionaire Aristotle Onassis. Several important events were also held here including the Miss Europe competition for five straight years. Lebanon was the only country that hosted this beauty contest outside Europe. Lebanon’s pride and venue for extravagance may not completely regain the prestige it used to enjoy before the war, but it still is the most important casino in the Middle East today.