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The idea of opening a gambling casino in Monaco belongs to Princess Caroline, a shrewd, business-minded spouse of Prince Florestan I. Revenues from the proposed venture were supposed to save the House of Grimaldi from bankruptcy. The ruling family's persistent financial problems became especially acute after the loss of tax revenue from two breakaway towns, Menton and Roquebrune, which declared independence from Monaco in 1848 and refused to pay taxes on olive oil and fruit imposed by the Grimaldis.

In 1854, Charles, Florestan's son and future Prince of Monaco, recruited a team of Frenchmen—writer Albert Aubert and businessman Napoleon Langlois—to devise a development plan and write a prospectus to attract 4 million francs needed to build a spa for the treatment of various diseases, a gambling casino modeled from the Bad Homburg casino, and English-styled villas. Granted the concession of 30 years to operate a bathing establishment and gaming tables, Aubert and Langlois opened the first casino in 1856 in Villa Bellevu. Intended to be only a temporary location, the building was a modest mansion in La Condamine.

In the late 1850s, Monaco was an unlikely place for a resort to succeed. The lack of roads needed to connect Monaco to Nice and the rest of Europe, the absence of comfortable accommodations for visitors, as well as the concessionaires' failure to publicize the new resort, resulted in far fewer customers than was originally anticipated. Unable to raise the capital needed to operate the money-losing enterprise, Aubert and Langlois ceded their rights to Frossard de Lilbonne, who in turn passed it to Pierre Auguste Daval in 1857

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Additional Photos by Gianfranco Calzarano (baddori) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1866 W: 124 N: 3543] (20341)
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