A casino is an establishment for gambling. It may be a standalone facility or an activity within a larger hotel, restaurant, retail shopping center or cruise ship. Casinos are also a popular tourist attraction and an economic generator for the cities and states in which they are located.
Gambling has been a part of human culture since the first primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice were found in ancient archaeological sites. However, the modern casino as an entertainment complex didn’t take shape until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. At the time, Italian aristocrats often held private parties known as ridotti where they would gamble and drink.
In the modern world casinos offer an enormous range of games and activities. From the dazzling lights of the Las Vegas strip to the crowded pai gow tables in New York’s Chinatown, there is no shortage of options for the 100 million people who visit casinos each year. While musical shows, lighted fountains and shops draw in the crowds, casinos wouldn’t exist without their main attraction – gambling. Casinos make money by charging a “house edge” on bets placed by patrons. This advantage is usually less than two percent.
During the 1990s casinos dramatically increased their use of technology to monitor and regulate the games themselves. For example, betting chips with microcircuitry allow the casino to oversee their exact usage minute-by-minute and alert players to any statistical deviations; roulette wheels are electronically monitored for abnormalities; and video cameras help monitor game play.