History

The first gaming room in Lugano opened in 1804, when the first company was established to open a "café with a gaming room". The games played were "biribisso", "bassetta" and of course dice, but only during the Autumn Fair. Discussion of the relationship between tourism, theatre and the casino continued for decades, until the Lugano Theatre Society was established in 1885 (with a share capital of 230,000 francs and 177 shareholders; the city subscribed 100 of the 500 shares) "to set up a building intended for theatrical and musical performances, balls and shows of all kinds appropriate to the nature and habits of the theatre, with an adjacent café and restaurant".

The first gaming room in Lugano opened in 1804, when the first company was established to open a "café with a gaming room". The games played were "biribisso", "bassetta" and of course dice, but only during the Autumn Fair. Discussion of the relationship between tourism, theatre and the casino continued for decades, until the Lugano Theatre Society was established in 1885 (with a share capital of 230,000 francs and 177 shareholders; the city subscribed 100 of the 500 shares) "to set up a building intended for theatrical and musical performances, balls and shows of all kinds appropriate to the nature and habits of the theatre, with an adjacent café and restaurant".

 




In 1912 the Theatre Society obtained a licence to operate minor games, and 1922 the Society changed its name to Società del Teatro e Casinò Kursaal di Lugano and resumed direct management of gambling with success.


Having overcome the difficulties consequent upon the world-wide economic crisis of 1929, the Kursaal increased its revenues year after year until it broke a record in 1946 with 641,777 francs, coinciding with a great cultural rebirth involving the staging of 8 operas, 45 plays, 16 concerts and 284 days of films.
After a popular vote in 1959 the stakes for playing were raised from 2 to 5 francs.
In 1970 the City became the majority shareholder in the Society, purchasing 184 shares.
In 1992 slot machines were introduced to the Kursaal in addition to "boule", following changes to the federal ordinance.
In 1993 the Constitution was amended to contemplate the possibility of introducing "major games" in Switzerland and in the years after this Lugano obtained a licence to operate a type "A" casino.
On November 29 2002 Casinò Lugano SA opened its doors: a true pearl on the European casino scene, represented by the precious pearl that is its symbol. Casinò Lugano is currently owned 67% by the City of Lugano, 29% by Casinos Austria, and by a number of small private shareholders.