What Is a Casino?
A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Casinos are most often built near or combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shops, and cruise ships and are designed to accommodate gamblers with a variety of gambling experiences. Some casinos are known for their large number of slot machines while others feature tables and live entertainment.
The idea of a casino has been around for thousands of years. In fact, primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice have been found at some of the world’s oldest archaeological sites. But the modern casino as we know it did not develop until the 16th century. In the beginning, they were often organized crime hangouts run by gangsters, who controlled their games with tight security and strict rules. However, the mob’s control began to wane as real estate investors and hotel chains bought out the properties and ran them legitimately without mob interference.
Most casinos offer a variety of table games such as blackjack, roulette, and craps. Some also offer traditional Far Eastern games, such as sic bo (which became popular in several European and American casinos during the 1990s), fan-tan, and pai gow. In addition, many American casinos offer poker in one form or another, with the house making its profit by taking a small percentage of each pot or charging an hourly fee for playing.
Each casino game has an inherent, long-term advantage for the house, called a house edge or vigorish. Casinos reduce this advantage by offering skill-based games, in which the player’s decisions have an impact on the outcome of the game. Players who possess sufficient skills to eliminate the house edge are known as advantage players. The casinos that attract these customers are sometimes called “houses of advantage”.
Because of the virtual assurance of gross profit, casinos have a tendency to offer big bettors extravagant inducements such as free spectacular entertainment, luxury living quarters, reduced-fare transportation and hotel rooms, and food and cigarettes while they play. Lesser bettors are often rewarded with comps such as free drinks and meals.
A casino’s security begins on the floor, where employees keep an eye on patrons and game conditions to spot cheating or other irregularities. Pit bosses and table managers watch over the various tables, looking for betting patterns that suggest cheating, and for people who don’t follow the casino’s rules. Casinos with elaborate surveillance systems employ cameras that have a “eye-in-the-sky” capability, and can be directed to focus on suspicious patrons by security personnel in a room filled with banks of monitors.
The opulent spa town of Baden-Baden first attracted European royalty and aristocracy to its gambling tables 150 years ago, and the elegant rooms still exude that air of luxury. These days the clientele is more diverse, but it is still rich and well-to-do. This money is evident in the casinos’ luxurious amenities such as top-notch hotels, spas, and restaurants. They also provide a wide range of entertainment and live entertainment such as symphonies, ballets, and comedic acts.