A casino is a place where games of chance and skill are played for real money. These games include blackjack, poker, craps and roulette as well as slot machines and other mechanical or electronic gaming devices. In addition to the games themselves, casinos also offer entertainment, shopping, lighted fountains and hotels. They generate billions of dollars in revenue each year for owners, investors, corporations and state and local governments.
The term casino originally referred to a small clubhouse for Italian men where they would gather to socialize and gamble. This idea spread throughout Europe and by the time the first American casino opened in Atlantic City in 1978, many states had amended their gambling laws to permit such establishments. Since then, casinos have spread to almost every corner of the country. They are found in huge resorts and on barges, boats and riverboats. Casino-type game machines are also located at racetracks to create racinos and in bars, restaurants, truck stops, grocery stores and other small business establishments.
Despite the luxuries and extras that may be associated with a particular casino, it is the games of chance that draw people into the doors. Casinos make billions each year from these activities and provide jobs for thousands of people. They employ security personnel and enforce rules to maintain the integrity of their gaming floor, which includes ensuring that players keep their hands visible at all times and that cards are dealt face up.
To keep the games fair, all casino employees are trained to deal with cheating and other forms of illegal activity. Casinos have surveillance systems that are designed to detect any suspicious behavior. They also have catwalks that allow security personnel to look down through one-way glass at games of chance on the casino floor.
Some casinos, such as the elegant spa town of Baden-Baden in Germany, draw royalty and aristocracy from across Europe. Others, like the Monte Carlo casino in Monaco, have been featured in James Bond novels and films. Despite the glamour and the glitz, however, casino gambling has its darker side. Some casino owners have been linked to organized crime and have resorted to bribery, intimidation and violence to obtain the necessary funds to operate their facilities.
Most casinos rely on the concept of comps to attract gamblers and encourage them to spend more time on the gaming floors. These free perks are usually based on the amount of money gamblers are spending at a particular casino and on the types of games they are playing. Some examples of comps are free hotel rooms, food, drinks and show tickets. High rollers can even receive limo service and airline tickets in exchange for their patronage. Comps are important to casinos because they offset the cost of running a casino and help to attract customers who might not otherwise come. In this way, they help to ensure that casino profits remain steady, regardless of the economy. If a casino does not offer comps, it is unlikely to survive.