A casino is an establishment for gambling. Casinos often combine entertainment and retail shops with hotel rooms, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and/or other tourist attractions. Some casinos are operated by government agencies, while others are owned and operated by private companies. In many countries, casinos are regulated by law to ensure fair play. Casinos are also known for providing live entertainment such as concerts and stand-up comedy.
Stepping into a casino is like entering another world – a world of lavish colors and glittering lights, the sounds of slot machines clinking coins, and the scent of excitement. The atmosphere is so intoxicating that it can make even the most jaded person take a step back and marvel.
While lighted fountains, musical shows and shopping centers help draw people to casinos, the vast majority of the money raked in by casino owners comes from games of chance. Slot machines, roulette, baccarat, poker, blackjack and craps all contribute to the billions of dollars that casino owners rake in each year. Some casinos also offer other games that require a measure of skill, such as two-up and fan-tan in Australia, pai gow in China, boule in France, and kalooki in Britain.
Gambling is an ancient pastime, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in some of the oldest archaeological sites. However, the modern casino as we know it developed in the 16th century, during a gambling craze that swept Europe. Casinos became popular places for European aristocrats to meet and gamble without being bothered by authorities, as they were technically illegal. The aristocrats would host parties called ridotti, which resembled modern-day casino parties.
Something about the presence of large amounts of money encourages cheating, stealing and other forms of fraud. That’s why casinos spend a lot of time and money on security. Casinos have surveillance cameras that monitor every table, window and doorway. Some have high-tech eye-in-the-sky systems that can be adjusted to focus on specific suspicious patrons.
Casino security starts on the casino floor, where casino employees watch all players to ensure they follow proper gaming rituals. For example, the way a dealer shuffles and deals cards and the locations of betting spots on the tables all have specific patterns that must be followed.
While legitimate businessmen were reluctant to get involved with casinos, which carried the taint of organized crime and vice, mob figures were happy to invest in them. They not only provided the capital, but also took sole or partial ownership of some casinos and controlled many aspects of their operations. In addition, the mobsters used casinos to launder money from illegal activities and extortion rackets. These operations helped give casinos their notorious reputation, and some of the most infamous examples occurred in Reno and Las Vegas.