The casino is a place where people can find all kinds of gambling games under one roof. It can be small, a strip of buildings on a city block, or a huge megaresort like Las Vegas. Some casinos are famous for their glitz and glamor, while others are comparatively modest businesses that have a reputation for good customer service. Whatever the size, the casino is a business and, like any other business, it must make money to stay in business. How a casino does this is by offering a variety of ways for people to gamble, and by setting up rules that will result in the casino winning the game in the long run.
In 2008, 24% of Americans had visited a casino, up from 20% in 1989. Of those who had visited, 56% preferred slot machines, with the next most popular game being poker. Only 8% liked blackjack, and 6% like craps or roulette. The popularity of each game varies by state and region, though. Some states are more tolerant of gambling than others, and some have legalized it entirely. Casinos are a major source of income for some American states, while other states have strict antigambling laws.
Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found at archaeological sites. But the casino as a place where people could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. The aristocrats of Italy, who did not have to worry about the inquisition, gathered for private parties known as ridotti where they could wager on anything from horse races to a game of dice.
Casinos do not simply offer a variety of gambling games. They set up rules that will result in the casino winning in the long run, and they try to persuade people to gamble by appealing to all of the senses. Bright lights, elaborate hotel structures, and replicas of famous landmarks draw the eye, while smells of food and cigarettes permeate the air. Casinos also use sound to their advantage, with 15,000 miles of neon tubing lighting the Las Vegas Strip and a cacophony of bells and whistles that appeal to the ear.
The most important part of the casino business, however, is security. Casinos employ a wide variety of technological and human security measures to protect the patrons’ safety, privacy and assets. Elaborate surveillance systems provide a high-tech “eye in the sky,” with cameras watching every table, change window and doorway. Each camera can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons, and the video feeds are reviewed in a room filled with banks of monitors by security staff members. In addition, casino tables have built-in microcircuitry that allows casinos to monitor the exact amounts being wagered minute by minute and warn them of any statistical deviations. Similarly, the payouts on slot machines are controlled by computers rather than humans, and they are monitored electronically as well.