A casino (from the Latin ‘house of games’) is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Casinos are often combined with hotels, restaurants, shopping, and other entertainment facilities. Some are historic, like the Orient-Saloon in Bisbee, Arizona, built in 1900 and now a museum; others are glass and steel temples of overindulgence, like the Hippodrome in London, England, designed in 1902. Many casinos feature an array of attractions in addition to gambling, including theaters, bars, nightclubs, spas, and art galleries.
In modern times, the casinos have become a major source of tourism. Their attractions include live performances, luxury hotels, and elaborate restaurants. Some offer themed activities, such as Cirque du Soleil shows. In addition to gambling, they also serve as social centers for locals and provide a venue for business conferences. They are located around the world, mostly in areas that are populated with large numbers of tourists.
The casino industry has grown rapidly in recent decades. The number of casinos worldwide has more than doubled since 1980. Most of the newer casinos are in the United States. In the United States, there are about 1,000 commercial casinos and hundreds of tribal casinos. Many states have legalized gambling, either by changing their laws or through the operation of casinos on Indian reservations.
Casinos earn their profits by charging patrons to play games of chance or skill, or by taking a percentage of the money bet, known as the rake. These revenues are used to pay for the casinos’ extravagant buildings, fountains, and replicas of famous towers and pyramids. Casinos also offer free items to gamblers, such as drinks and food. The house edge, or mathematical advantage, of most casino games is very small but is sufficient to cover the casinos’ expenses and generate profit.
In order to attract customers and increase their gambling revenue, casinos have developed a variety of promotional strategies. These include bonuses, comps, and rakebacks, as well as advertising campaigns on television and in the internet. The average casino visitor is a forty-six-year-old woman from a middle-class household, according to one study. Older parents, who have more vacation time and disposable income than younger people, are also a major segment of the casino market.
Modern casinos have extensive security measures. A physical security force patrols the premises and responds to calls for assistance or reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity. A specialized surveillance department operates the casino’s closed circuit television system, which is sometimes called an eye-in-the-sky, and is capable of tracking movement and detecting cheating. The camera systems are adjusted by casino security personnel from a control room. The casino’s video feeds are recorded so that security staff can review the footage later if a crime or a cheating incident occurs. This allows the casino to track the identity of a suspect. This method has been successful in reducing crime at many casinos. However, problem gambling is a growing concern. Some people who visit casinos are addicted to gambling, and the casino’s profits can be offset by the cost of treating these addicts and lost productivity in the workplace.