The "Casino" name predates the existing Casino Theatre building and business, and goes back to a landmark dance hall built on the same spot in 1922.
Several years later the building was transformed into a movie house, with seats placed on the flat dance floor and the screen on the stage.
The "Casino Theatre," complete with British spelling of "theater," was born.
The Italian word casino first meant a cottage or country house. (In Italian, casa means "house," and casino means "little house.") Then the word came to mean a social gathering place — a room or building where people could dance or listen to music.
The word came into the English language in the mid 1800s, and for many years during the Victorian era, "casino" was simply a fancy, exotic-sounding name for a place for social amusements. Casinos were places where one might find billiards, bowling, concerts, dancing, dining, tea parties and theatricals.
"Casino" became popular as a proper name for these spots in the late 1800s. The first campus center at Princeton University was called the Casino Theatre. It opened in 1895, and contained tennis courts, a dance floor and a bowling alley, as well as a stage for theatrical productions. There was a Casino Theatre on Broadway in New York City, a stage for operettas from 1894 through the early part of the century.
"Casino" stuck as a popular name for movie houses when they came along, much like "Ritz" or "Rialto." There were once hundreds of theaters named Casino across the country. In fact, there is another "Casino Theatre" still operating across the state in Vandergrift, Pa., that was built in 1900. It was a vaudeville theater until the 1920s, when it was remodeled for movies.
And so, the "Casino Theatre" has been a landmark on the main street of Mount Pocono for generations.
That other casino ...
These days, of course, the word "casino" primarily means a place used for gambling. And the irony is that even though the Casino Theatre has a long and well-established history as a family entertainment spot, strangers to the Poconos are confusing the Casino Theatre Entertainment Center in Mount Pocono with the Mount Airy Casino Resort, which opened in the fall of 2007 only about three miles to our south.
(Mount Airy's mailing address is also Mount Pocono, although technically it is in Paradise Township.)
We get calls for "casino" business many times a week, whether it's people looking to make room reservations or vendors looking to deliver beverages.