Modern casinos resemble indoor amusement parks for adults, with elaborate themes, musical shows and other entertainment bringing in the crowds. But it’s the gambling that provides most of the billions in profits raked in by casinos every year. Slot machines, table games like blackjack and roulette and other wagers on chance are the backbone of this popular entertainment.
The word “casino” is a combination of two Latin words, “caesar” and “nostra” meaning a public place where gambling is permitted. The term casino has a more specific definition today, with Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defining it as “a building or room where a variety of gambling activities are conducted.”
Gambling may have begun even before recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice discovered at archaeological sites. But the casino as a place where patrons can find a variety of gambling activities under one roof did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. The concept was borrowed from the Italians, who used private clubs called ridotti to host social gatherings where betting and gambling were the primary activities.
Casinos use a number of techniques to prevent cheating and theft by players. The most obvious are security guards and cameras monitoring all areas of the facility. Dealers also are trained to spot blatant cheating methods, such as palming cards or marking or switching dice. They are aided by pit bosses and managers who can watch over the tables with a wider view of the gaming floor to make sure that patrons aren’t stealing from other gamblers or engaging in other questionable activities.
A casino’s reputation for fair play is critical to its survival, so it spends a lot of time and money on security. This includes a full-time staff of security personnel, which includes trained surveillance specialists who record video of all casino activities. The footage can help identify any potential problems and is reviewed daily to spot any suspicious activity. Casinos also train their dealers to be alert to suspicious actions and to report them immediately to security guards.
To encourage frequent gamblers, many casinos offer comp programs. These offer free meals, drinks and hotel rooms or limo service or airline tickets to big gamblers. In order to qualify, gamblers swipe a credit card when they enter the casino and the casino computer tally up their points. Casinos are also able to track their customers’ gambling habits and preferences through the data they gather. This allows them to better target their advertising and marketing campaigns. They can also identify potential problem gamblers and offer them help to get them back on the right track. Some casinos are even starting to offer their services to online gamblers. In this way, they are expanding their reach into the global market. This is an important move because the Internet can be a convenient and safe environment for people to try their luck.