A casino is a gambling establishment where people can play a variety of games of chance for real money. A casino may also offer food and drink and stage shows. Many states have laws regulating casinos, and some ban them altogether. Other states allow casinos on American Indian reservations, which are exempt from state antigambling laws. The casino industry has grown rapidly, and it is now a major source of employment in some communities.
While gambling probably predates recorded history, the modern casino as a center of entertainment and luxury came into being in Nevada in the 1950s. Legitimate businessmen were reluctant to invest in a new industry with the taint of vice, so organized crime figures filled the financial gap. They provided the bankroll and became involved in casino operations, taking full or partial ownership of casinos and directing them strategically.
Although casinos are often associated with Las Vegas, they can be found all over the world. Some are very large and spectacular in appearance, with beautiful decor and a mind-boggling number of games. Others are smaller but still offer a wide range of gambling activities. Many casinos also have hotels, restaurants, non-gambling game rooms, bars, swimming pools, spas, and other amenities that make them attractive to entire families.
The games played in a casino vary by region, but most have certain similarities. Roulette, for example, is the principal gambling game in Europe and casinos there reduce the house advantage to less than 1 percent to entice players. Craps draws big bettors, and casinos there charge a higher percentage. Slot machines and video poker machines are the economic mainstay of most American casinos, providing high volume, rapid play at sums ranging from five cents to a dollar. These machines are designed to be adjustable for any desired profit, and their payouts are determined by computer chips inside the machine.
Besides the games themselves, casinos employ extensive technology to ensure fairness and security. For example, betting chips have built-in microcircuitry that allows a casino to monitor them minute-by-minute, and the roulette wheels are electronically monitored to detect any deviation from their expected results. Casinos also use surveillance cameras to monitor their patrons.
Gambling is not without its critics, and there are plenty of arguments against legalizing it. Among other things, studies show that casino revenue drains a community by diverting spending from other forms of local entertainment and that the costs of treating problem gamblers and lost productivity from their addiction often exceed any profits the casinos generate. Moreover, some states argue that the gambling industry is monopolized by a few large corporations and should be subject to antitrust regulation. Despite these concerns, the popularity of casinos continues to grow. In fact, 40 states now have some form of legalized gambling. The trend is likely to continue as more people seek out the excitement of a win. Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition. Copyright