A casino is a facility that houses and accommodates certain types of gambling activities. Casinos are most commonly built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships and other tourist attractions. Some casinos are known for hosting live entertainment events, such as stand-up comedy, concerts, and sporting events.
History of casinos
The precise origin of gambling is unknown. The Chinese recorded the first official account of the practice in 2300 B.C., but it is generally believed that activity of gambling, in some way or another, has been seen in almost every society in history. From the Ancient Greeks and Romans to Napoleon's France and Elizabethan England, much of history is filled with stories of entertainment based on the games of chance.
One of the first known casinos was the Casinò di Venezia, established in Venice Italy around 1638, and is still in operation.
In American history, early casinos were originally known as saloons. The creation and importance of saloons was greatly influenced by four major cities; New Orleans, St. Louis, Chicago and San Francisco. It was in the saloons that travelers could find people to talk to, drink with, and often gamble with. During the early 20th century in America, gambling became outlawed and banned by state legislation and social reformers of the time. However, in 1931, gambling was legalized throughout the state of Nevada, and Las Vegas, spawning America's first legalized casinos. In 1978, New Jersey allowed gambling in Atlantic City, now America's second largest gambling city. Other regional centers for gaming in the U.S. are Tunica Resorts, Mississippi and in the Gulf Coast region around Biloxi.
Gambling in casinos
In most jurisdictions worldwide, gambling is limited to persons over the age of license (18 or 21 years of age in most of the United States and 16 to 21 in most other countries where casinos are permitted).
Customers gamble by playing slot machines or other games of chance (e.g., craps, roulette, baccarat) and some skill (e.g., blackjack, poker). Games usually have mathematically-determined odds that ensure the house has at all times an advantage over the players. This can be expressed more precisely by the notion of expected value, which is uniformly negative (from the player's perspective). This advantage is called the house edge. In games such as poker where players play against each other, the house takes a commission called the rake. Casinos often give out free items, known as comps to people who are gambling. Often, in most casinos, the more money a player uses the more benefits or comps the player gets. The casino determines the comps a player shall receive based upon a formula directly related to the player's average bet, the number of hours of play, and the percentage that the casino will win on the player. Comps can range in anything from free drinks during play to penthouse suites, free airfare, limo service, and free food.
Payout is the percentage won by players.
Playing with house money refers to the situation where a winning player is placing bets with money that has been won from the casino.
Given the relatively large amounts of currency that are handled within a casino, the temptation exists for both patrons and staff to commit crimes, and many casinos have security measures to prevent these. The most basic level of security today consists of cameras located throughout the property operated by highly trained individuals who attempt to locate cheating and stealing by both players and employees.
Modern casino security is usually divided between a physical security force, which patrols the casino floor and responds to calls for assistance and reports of criminal and/or suspicious activities, and a specialized surveillance department, that operates the casino's closed circuit television (known in the industry as eye in the sky) system in an effort to detect any misconduct by both guests and employees alike. Both of these specialized casino security departments work very closely with each other to ensure the safety of both guests and the casino's assets. Some casinos also have catwalks in the ceiling above the casino floor. These catwalks allow surveillance personnel to look directly down, through one way glass, on the activities at the tables and/or slot machines.
One area of controversy surrounding casinos is their relationship to crime rates. Many casino opponents contend that casinos contribute to crime, and some recent research supports this. However, economics studies that do show a positive relationship between casinos and crime usually fail to consider the visiting population at risk when they calculate the crime rate in casino areas. Such studies thus count the crimes committed by visitors, but do not count visitors in the population measure, and this overstates the crime rates in casino areas. Part of the reason this methodology is used, despite it leading to an overstatement of crime rates is that reliable data on tourist count are often not available.