What is a Casino?
A casino, or gambling house, is a place where people can play games of chance. Many casinos combine this activity with other entertainment venues, such as restaurants and stage shows. Others are freestanding establishments devoted solely to gaming activities.
The word “casino” is believed to come from the Italian word for small public clubhouse. As such, the earliest casinos were not much more than simple clubhouses where gamblers could meet in private. By the 1950s, however, the mobsters who ran Reno and Las Vegas had plenty of cash from their drug dealing, extortion and other rackets and were eager to expand and renovate. Legitimate businessmen were reluctant to get involved with casinos because of their seamy image, but the mobsters didn’t care. They took sole or partial ownership of casinos and often controlled the operations through intimidation, threats or violence.
Casinos make money by offering a variety of games that have built in advantages for the house. These advantages, ranging from very small (less than two percent) to quite large (2 percent or more), add up over the millions of bets that casino patrons place each year. Casinos can also generate additional income by offering comps to players. These can include free hotel rooms, meals, tickets to shows and even limo service and airline tickets for big spenders.
Casinos are not the only places where you can play games of chance, but they are the most glamorous. They are a major tourist attraction, attracting hardened dollar spinners and curious newbies. In addition to the usual range of tables and slot machines, they offer an array of high-tech facilities for sports betting.