A casino is a public place where a variety of games of chance are played and where gambling is the primary activity. Many casinos add a wide array of luxuries to help attract and keep customers, such as restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery. But even without these extras, a gambling establishment may be called a casino if it meets some basic requirements.
Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found in archaeological sites. But the idea of a central gathering spot for gambling did not take hold until the 16th century, when a craze swept Europe and Italian aristocrats hosted parties at venues called ridotti. The word casino comes from the Latin cazino, meaning “small box.” The modern casino is based on this concept, with rooms containing slot machines, table games and other activities.
In the twenty-first century, casinos have become increasingly choosy about their customers and concentrate on high rollers who spend a great deal of money. These high-stakes gamblers are often given comps, such as hotel room stays, dinners and tickets to shows, that are worth tens of thousands of dollars. In addition, these gamblers are given special tables in a separate part of the casino where they can play with higher stakes than the average customer.
Casinos also invest a lot of time, effort and money in security. They have surveillance systems that use cameras to monitor every table, window and doorway in the building; electronic systems that track every chip placed on a table and alert staff to any anomaly; and roulette wheels that are electronically monitored for statistical deviations from expected results.
A casino’s clientele varies widely by region, with older adults making up the largest percentage of visitors. In 2005, Harrah’s Entertainment reported that the typical casino gambler was a forty-six-year-old woman from a household with above-average income. Most females surveyed indicated a preference for electronic gaming, while men preferred table games.