A casino is a special kind of public place where people can gamble and take the chance to win money. While gambling does not always guarantee a win, the odds are mathematically determined to give the casino an edge. Casinos also offer a number of luxury amenities to attract patrons, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. There have been less luxurious places that housed gambling activities and were still called casinos, but the word “casino” has come to symbolize a lavish, high-end entertainment venue.
A large part of the casino industry’s revenue comes from its games of chance. These include slot machines, roulette, blackjack and poker. Some games have a slight element of skill, such as dice, but the majority are pure chance. In the case of slot machines, the casino has a statistical advantage over the player, which is referred to as the house edge. Casinos also impose limits on the number of times you can play a particular game in one sitting.
Gambling certainly predates the casino as we know it, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice appearing in many archaeological sites. But the concept of a central hub for gambling didn’t develop until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats would hold private parties in taverns known as ridotti [Source: Schwartz]. This allowed them to indulge in the vice of gambling without worrying about legal repercussions. The idea quickly spread throughout the continent, and European aristocrats started opening their own casinos, which came to be known as the “casino.”
In addition to the games of chance, modern casinos are largely characterized by security measures to deter theft and cheating. Security staff members patrol the gaming floor, keeping an eye on the tables and patrons. Dealers are trained to spot blatantly obvious cheating techniques, like palming or marking cards. Table managers and pit bosses have a broader view of the casino, watching patrons for betting patterns that might suggest cheating. And a security room filled with banks of monitors offers a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” that can be focused on suspicious patrons.
The world’s finest casinos aim to attract a global audience with dazzling decor and top-notch entertainment. As disposable income rises around the world and travel becomes more common, the best casinos are preparing to meet the demand with a series of new and exciting venues. And with the growth of China in particular, it’s likely that the list of the world’s best casinos will continue to expand. This article has been updated to reflect the latest information about the casino industry.