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What is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. It may be combined with hotels, restaurants, or retail shops. It may also host live entertainment, such as stand-up comedy or concerts.

Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive proto-dice found at the earliest archaeological sites. But the modern casino as a place to find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and nobles began throwing private parties at venues called ridotti [Source: Schwartz].

Many casinos use bright and sometimes gaudy floor and wall coverings to stimulate and cheer patrons. They avoid clocks on the walls because they can distract players from keeping track of time. Security personnel watch activities on the floor and at the tables through hidden cameras. Often the dealers and other staff follow set routines, so if someone does something out of the ordinary, it’s easy for security to notice.

Most modern casinos offer comps, or complimentary services for high rollers, such as free rooms, meals and drinks. They also have electronic systems for tracking patrons’ spending habits. Some even have catwalks in the ceiling above the casino floor, so that surveillance personnel can look directly down, through one way glass, on the table and machine action. Comp programs help casinos build a database of customers for future marketing purposes. But critics say that casino revenue rarely trickles down to the local community, and that the cost of treating problem gambling and lost productivity cancel out any economic gains.