A casino is an establishment for gambling. It is usually combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shops and cruise ships. Many casinos also offer live entertainment. Casinos differ from other types of gambling establishments in that they allow players to gamble on games of chance for money or prizes. While musical shows, lighted fountains and elaborate themes attract the attention of visitors, casinos actually make their money through the millions of bets placed by patrons on a wide variety of casino games. Casinos typically include games such as blackjack, poker, roulette, craps and baccarat.
While gambling probably dates back to the dawn of man, the modern casino as we know it didn’t appear until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats held private parties in venues known as ridotti, and although technically illegal, they were not bothered by the authorities [Source: Schwartz].
The casino as we know it today is a high-tech affair. Video cameras and computers are used to monitor games of chance, and electronic systems such as “chip tracking” enable the casino to track exact amounts wagered minute-by-minute, and alert staff to any anomalies. Roulette wheels are electronically monitored to discover any statistical deviations from their expected outcomes, and automated slot machines are regularly inspected for anomalies.
Casinos rely heavily on incentives to attract and reward gamblers, with “comps” (free goods or services) given to frequent customers. The perks on offer range from free hotel rooms, buffets and show tickets to limo service and airline tickets. Comps are designed to encourage gamblers to spend more money, and the fact that most casinos have a built-in edge on almost all bets (lower than two percent) ensures that they are virtually guaranteed to turn a profit.