A casino, also known as a gaming house or gambling hall, is an establishment where people can gamble. These places offer a variety of games, and they often combine these activities with restaurants, hotels, night clubs, retail shops, and other tourist attractions. Some casinos specialize in particular types of gambling, such as baccarat or bingo. A few are also famous for their architecture or decoration, such as the Monte Carlo casino in Monaco.
While dazzling musical shows, lighted fountains and luxurious accommodations may draw in tourists, the true attraction at a casino is the chance to try one’s hand at some form of gambling. Casinos provide a variety of entertainment, including slots, poker, blackjack, roulette and craps. But while these games may be the mainstay of casinos, they would not exist without the billions in profits raked in by gambling.
Although the precise origin of gambling is unknown, it is widely believed that it has existed in some form throughout history. Certainly, primitive protodice made from carved knuckle bones or dice have been found at archaeological sites, and games of chance have long been popular in many societies. But the modern casino as we know it is relatively new, and did not appear until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. The first casinos were often known as ridotti, and were used by wealthy Italian nobles to host private parties with gambling games.
Casinos make their money by imposing an advantage on the games they offer, known as the “vig” or “rake.” The advantage can be very small—as little as two percent—but over time it can add up to huge sums. These large profits are what allow casinos to build lavish hotels, fountains and replicas of famous monuments.
Most modern casinos use video cameras and computerized security systems to supervise the games. Casinos also employ a number of employees to watch the patrons, looking for blatant cheating or theft and observing patterns in betting that might indicate collusion between players or a hidden dealer. In addition to these measures, many casinos have catwalks in the ceiling where surveillance personnel can look down through one way glass at the game tables and slot machines.
While there are many benefits to casinos, some critics argue that they damage local economies by directing spending away from other forms of entertainment and increasing the risk of gambling addiction. Moreover, the high cost of treating compulsive gamblers and the loss in productivity caused by lost work time by addicted players more than offset any economic gains that a casino might bring to a community. Despite these criticisms, casinos continue to prosper and attract millions of visitors each year. They remain a symbol of glamorous and opulent entertainment. Here are ten of the world’s most famous casinos.