Hello Monaco magazine Winter 2018 - issue HM02 - Page 69

T ENG History pages François Blanc his was for a reason, however, since this business was not vital to the Principality up until Prince Charles III came into power. On December 3, 1860, he established la Société de Bains de Mer that owns the Opera, Casino and the Hotel de Paris to this day. But the gambling industry took time to take off, and it would be years before Monaco would be known for gambling. Railways needed to be built to improve the circulation between France and Italy, allowing business to rocket at an incredible rate, once the infrastructure was established, allowing more people to reach the Principality. On February 18, 1863, the Casino of Monaco was opened with much pomp. And this really made the gambling industry soar to incredible heights. The efforts of François Blanc and his wife Maria were finally repaid. F rançois Blanc was a native of Provence, and he and his twin brother Louis were born in the small town of Courtaison on 12 December 1806. Their father Claude Blanc, a tax officer, died before the brothers were born. The boys were growing up in a small, quiet town and dreaming of becoming rich and famous. When a circus came to town, they were particularly impressed by the gambling tricks that it was demonstrating. They decided to go off on a circus tour all over the south of France, taking up diverse work and studying all the tricks of the trade. They finished up in the gambling business in Marseilles. Becoming quite successful, they both realized that they had found a way to make their childhood dreams come true. Marie Charlotte Hansel Eventually François and Louis saved up enough to expand their business. In 1833, they were able to open a small bank in Bordeaux and began to do some speculations with government pensions and real estate. Using their ingenious strategies (some of which were later outlawed), they multiplied their quite considerable fortunes. They were soon arrested, however, and brought to trial for fraud. At that time, there were no special laws prohibiting any of their business strategies. They turned out to be the first creative fraudsters to have invented such speculation tricks. The Blanc brothers finished up paying a fine for bribing state officials and were released. This unpleasant experience made them leave Bordeaux and head to Paris. That’s when they came up with new gambling projects to circumvent the existing anti-gambling laws. The brothers opened a number of institutions before King Louis Philippe passed his new laws banning gambling and leaving them out of work. T he Blancs never gave up. They moved up to Homberg and started a very lucrative gambling business there. This was just a start of their big success in the landgrafting of Hesse- Homburg, near Frankfurt. At that time, Homburg was encumbered by substantial debt and the local monarch signed a very profitable contract with François and Louis Blanc to develop its tourist industry. Their success was phenomenal. Homburg quickly became the «hot spot» of Europe with its gambling houses, rich hotels, theaters, a spa, numerous gardens and cultural attractions. It became a «The Wizard of Homburg» became «The Wizard of Monte-Carlo». With the arrival of François Blanc, The Princely government’s money problems soon became history. Hello Monaco – Winter 2018 / 67