The Gran Casino was one of the first buildings to be constructed near Santander's beaches in El Sardinero. The original Casino, built midway through the nineteenth century was purchased by a French organisation in 1870 and converted into the building we see today, which dates from 1916. When gambling was forbidden under the Franco dictatorship, the Casino was used for other activities (dances, weddings, theatre and cinema screenings).In 1978, following Franco's death and the return to democracy, the Casino was completely overhauled, reopened and its original function was restored. All the usual diversions are on offer: Black Jack, Roulette, Poker and fruit machines. In addition, there are banqueting rooms, a restaurant, a pub, a cafe and an events room for parties. Various meeting rooms are also available, the largest of which can accommodate up to 300 people. One area of the building is dedicated to art exhibitions as well.