What is a Casino?
A casino, or gambling house, is a place where people can play games of chance and win money. Modern casinos often feature restaurants, bars, shops and even hotels. The main attraction, however, is the gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, poker and other table games account for the billions of dollars that casinos rake in each year.
Although musical shows, lighted fountains and elaborate hotel themes help draw in customers, a casino’s profits depend largely on gambling. To encourage gamblers to spend more time and money on their games, casinos offer free goods or services—called comps—to “good” players. These can include free hotel rooms, food, tickets to shows or even limo service and airline tickets. Casinos also employ a variety of security measures, including well-trained staff and closed-circuit television systems.
While the modern casino is an entertainment mecca, its roots reach back centuries. Gambling has been part of almost every culture, from the ancient Mesopotamia and Greece to Napoleon’s France and Elizabethan England. Some of the earliest casinos were built by the mafia, which used them as fronts for illegal rackets such as drug dealing and extortion.
While some gambling houses have a seamy reputation, many are legitimate and regulated by state or local governments. Unfortunately, gambling addicts can drain a community’s finances by shifting spending away from other forms of entertainment and by depressing local income levels. In addition, the social costs of treating problem gambling and the loss of productivity by those who work in casinos can offset any economic benefits.