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Monaco is the second smallest country in the world by area, second only to Vatican City. Monaco packs in 36,000 people into an area of only 0.76 square miles. The few people who live there are generally wealthy though, and their GDP per person is over $132,000, which is pretty massive and also the highest in the world.
So Monaco may be very tiny but they do pack a real punch, and this is the most famous of the microstates of Europe and the most famous one in the world actually.
What makes Monaco most famous is the Monte Carlo Casino, perhaps it even laying claim to the most famous casino in the world. There are some very small countries that also have casinos, but they tend to be quite small, but the Monte Carlo Casino is quite grand indeed. (2)
This casino has been operating since the 19th century, and is majority owned by the family that has been ruling Monte Carlo since the 13th century, so this is no recent development in gambling that you see in a lot of countries.
This casino is so famous that there is a casino in Las Vegas named after it, and charitable organizations that run gambling very often will call these events Monte Carlo nights.
The Monte Carlo Casinos, as they are known today, is now a collection of 5 casino properties, although they are all owned and operated by the same company.
Gambling is therefore very entrenched in Monaco society and this as stable of a gambling environment as you will ever see. In some countries, the people permit s casino or casinos, but here it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say the casino owners permit the people to live there alongside them.
Playing Poker in Monaco
As far as playing poker goes, the focus here is on the casino games, and if you want to play poker at the Monte Carlo Casinos you have to travel to the one in Las Vegas, Nevada to do it, as real Monte Carlo Casinos do not offer it, at least the normal version of poker as we think of it, playing against other players in other words.
They do offer variations of poker though but it’s all games that players play against the house at, like Caribbean Stud and Ultimate Texas Hold’em. The amount of money that the house takes in with these casino games is higher than the rake at a normal poker table, and there may not be a big enough demand here for it in any case. (3)
People who come to the Monte Carlo casinos come to gamble, meaning casino gambling, and therefore these casino type poker games presumably suit their fancy more than a regular game of poker would, where you are looking to outwit fellow players at the poker table.
Residents of Monaco aren’t even permitted inside the casino anyway, at least native residents of Monaco, although foreign nationals are permitted to gamble, and foreign nationals actually represent the majority of Monaco residents. (4)
This rather strange law as far as banning their own residents goes back to the early days of the casino, where the Prince of Monaco at the time wanted to bolster the country’s economy, but wanted to do so off the backs of people other than his own. The law has remained in effect to this day.
The gambling here is mostly directed at tourists though, and the tourist trade here is pretty big indeed, as they get about 4 million tourists each year, more than 100 times the population here.
So Monaco residents, in spite of living in one of the world’s great gambling capitals, and whether they are native or foreign nationals, are relegated to home games and playing online.
At present, online poker players living in Monaco are permitted to gamble online at the sites of their choice, and this means at online poker and gambling sites located in other countries, since Monaco does not have any, nor are there any plans in the works for anyone to start any.
However, there is talk about Monaco letting France regulate their online gambling, bringing people from Monaco into the fold of the French regulatory system, which would require players to play at the regulated French sites only. (4)
However, about half the online poker players in France disregard these regulations and play at foreign based online poker sites anyway, and this is going up against the full efforts of the French government who do make their best efforts to block French online poker players from going off the grid.
So we’ll have to see if this effort by the French to include Monaco residents in their regulatory system comes to pass, but even if it does, Monaco still makes the laws here and we’d have to see if they would seek to block internet access the way France does, and they may not, and even if they do, there are some pretty easy workarounds to this.
In the meantime, if you’re in Monaco, you still enjoy complete freedom to play where you want, for the present time anyway.