A casino is a place where people gamble on games of chance. Some casinos also offer entertainment and dining. The term is derived from the Latin cazino, meaning “little house.” The first casino was built in Monaco in 1863 and is still open today. Casinos are usually located in cities with large populations, or in tourist destinations such as Las Vegas.
While gambling has long predated recorded history, the casino as a place for people to find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and wealthy Italian aristocrats frequently held private parties at houses known as ridotti [Source: Schwartz]. Gambling games were illegal at the time, but the rich were not bothered by the authorities because their social activities took place in private.
The casino business became highly profitable in the 20th century, as more Americans traveled to Las Vegas and other major gambling centers, and as legalized casino gambling expanded nationwide. As the number of casinos grew, many were run by organized crime figures, who used casino profits to finance their drug dealing, extortion and other rackets. Federal crackdowns on gangster-run casinos and the threat of losing a gambling license at the slightest hint of mob involvement caused legitimate businessmen with deep pockets to seek alternatives to the mobsters.
As casinos grew, they began to incorporate all sorts of technological innovations. Video cameras are now routinely used for surveillance; electronic systems monitor bets minute-by-minute and alert casino security to any statistical deviations; roulette wheels are electronically monitored to ensure they do not deviate from their expected results; and even slot machines’ payouts are determined by computer chips, not humans.
To make the most profit from their patrons, casinos regularly offer big bettors extravagant inducements, such as free show tickets, hotel rooms, transportation and fine food and drinks while gambling. This practice is so common that it is sometimes referred to as the “casino advantage.”
Another way casinos make money is by charging a fee to host special events. These can be anything from a concert to a poker tournament. Many of the world’s top-tier casinos have large ballrooms capable of hosting these kinds of events. For example, Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip is famous for its Roman-themed architecture and star-studded entertainment offerings. It has been home to performances by Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Dolly Parton and Liberace. In addition, it has hosted many prestigious golf championships and tennis tournaments. For more information, visit the official website of Caesars Palace. The Hippodrome in London, England, is another legendary casino that hosts a lot of big events. It was originally designed to serve as a music and dance hall, but was converted into a casino in 1900. Today, it is a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. It attracts a diverse audience and has become the largest venue of its kind in the world.