A tradition dating back more than 170 years
Toward the end of the 1830s, François and Louis Blanc called Homburg vor der Höhe “a small, filthy, one-horse town”. But the Blanc brothers saw two advantages of the small royal seat of the Grand Dukes of Hesse-Homburg: its picturesque location at the foot of the Taunus hills and its two natural mineral springs. The Blanc brothers knew that they would find success if they managed to link the Spa and gambling in Homburg.
It was on 23 May, 1841 that the Roulette ball rolled for the first time in Homburg. On the same day, the cornerstone for the Kurhaus (Spa rooms) was set: the Blanc brothers had committed themselves to building their dream. After a construction period of only two years, the Casino moved from the small spa hall “Brunnensälchen” into the new, magnificent building. From the very beginning, a “worldwide novelty” gave the Casino Bad Homburg a magnetic power of attraction. Furthermore, the Blanc brothers were also the first to abolish the Double Zero rule that was common at the time in Roulette, which considerably increased the guests’ chances of winning.
Over the following years, the Blanc brothers turned Homburg into a Spa resort with an international flair. The Blancs invested considerable money in the development of the Spa facilities and the town: they gave Homburg its street lighting, initiated the laying of water pipes, and connected Homburg to the rest of the world by building a railway line to Frankfurt.
The Blanc brothers found in Homburg the prosperity and wealth they had hoped for. And through their investments, the little Spa town transformed into one of the leading gambling Spa towns in Europe. From Paris to Petersburg, from London to Madrid, the preeminent society papers reported on the luxurious amenities and the legendary wins that could be made at the Homburg Casino. And they all came: the names of aristocrats and revolutionaries, millionaires and poets can all be found in the Casino’s guestbook.
On 31 December 1872, more than 100 years after the opening of the Casino, the Casino closed its doors for many decades – it was a black day in Homburg’s history. When the last of the Grand Dukes family had died, the small Homburg principality became a Prussian territory, and in Prussia, gambling was illegal. Nontheless, this principality did not fall back into mediocrity. By further expanding the health and wellness sectors, Homburg developed into a world-class health Spa, and Europe’s entire aristocracy sought treatment and recovery there. The Prussian emperor’s family chose the Grand Duke’s castle as their permanent summer residence.
Despite the closing of the Casino François Blanc continued in his success (his brother Louis had died in 1850). As early as 1863, he had purchased the license for a casino in Monaco. Together with his wife Marie, he repeated the Homburg success on the Monegasque rock, and established the Casino Monte Carlo as one of the most famous casinos worldwide. This is why the Casino Bad Homburg is called “mother of Monte Carlo” since its re-opening in 1949.
More than 60 years of modern history
After World War II, luck returned to Bad Homburg. In October 1948, Hermann Heidtmann opened a small gambling room for “Spiralo”, a game of skill he had developed in the style of classic Roulette. Shortly after, when the Federal State of Hesse permitted the operation of casinos in Homburg, Heidtmann received this license as well. On 7 April 1949, the “mother of Monte Carlo” saw the first Roulette ball roll again after a long break.
Soon, the large number of guests pouring into the casino and the Spa gardens could no longer be accommodated by the limited facilities. Heidtmann built several extensions and an elegant restaurant in order to expand the gambling facilities. His successor, Werner Wilhelm Wicker, who obtained the license in 1976, also extended the building and improved the premises.
Since 1 January 2013, the Françcois-Blanc-Spielbank GmbH Bad Homburg v. d. H. runs the Homburg Casino. It is an affiliate of the Kur- und Kongress-GmbH, owned by the city of Bad Homburg v.d.H. Thus, for the first time in its history, the Casino Bad Homburg is under public management, and the 4th chapter of the Casino’s successful history has begun.
The Blanc brothers
The twins François and Louis Blanc were born on 12th December 1806 as the sons of a tax collector. Initially seeking their luck in the financial world, in 1830 the Blanc brothers set up a small banking business in Bordeaux. From Paris, they moved to Luxembourg, where they met the Grand Duke Ludwig von Hessen-Homburg. When Grand Duke Ludwig’s brother Phillipp took over the regency, he called François and Louis Blanc to Homburg and granted them the license “to exercise gambling”.
François Blanc established a family whose descendants married into the European aristocracy. Marie Hensel, the daughter of a shoemaker from Friedrichsdorf, had come into the Blanc’s house in 1847. After what was called a small scandal at the time, he had committed himself to educating her at an exclusive convent school near Paris, and then married her.
The wedding took place on 20 June 1854.The Blancs enjoyed a good marriage and had three children together. Madame Blanc enjoyed the Blanc wealth, but at the same time proved to be a great benefactoress. When François Blanc died on 27 July 1877 in the Swiss Spa town of Leukerbad, Madame Blanc took over and managed the Casino Monte Carlo until she died four years later.
A Guestbook with illustrious names
From the very beginning, high-ranking personalities have enjoyed visiting the Casino Bad Homburg. In the last century, the Russian prince among poets, Dostojewski, was among the most famous guests. Lucien Bonaparte, a nephew of the Emperor Napoleon, also found his luck in Homburg.
Nowadays a casino endeavors to attend at the highest level to the needs of its famous and unknown guests alike. Discretion is a matter of pride at the Casino Bad Homburg – and this pride ensures that even today, many famous people visit. However, it is up to every visitor to discover them himself.