Casinos are a form of entertainment that draws in millions of people each year, offering an array of games of chance and generating billions of dollars in profits for their owners. While they offer many amenities that draw in guests, such as shopping centers, restaurants and hotels, casinos would not exist without games of chance, which include slots, blackjack, roulette, craps, keno and poker.
Casino gaming is believed to have begun in the 16th century, although primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice have been found on archaeological digs dating back as far as Ancient Mesopotamia. However, the concept of a casino as a place to find multiple gambling games under one roof didn’t really develop until the craze for gambling swept Europe and the Italian aristocrats created private venues called ridotti to indulge in their favorite pastime.
Today’s modern casino is more like an indoor amusement park than a gambling establishment, offering musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and even hotels. But the real reason to visit a casino is the chance to win some money. Despite the glitzy surroundings, casinos make their money by taking a small percentage of every bet placed. This advantage can be as low as two percent, but it adds up over the millions of bets placed and gives the casinos enough money to build enormous buildings, elaborate hotels and opulent displays.
Something about gambling – probably the presence of large amounts of money – seems to encourage some players to cheat, steal or lie their way into a jackpot instead of winning through random chance. That’s why casinos spend a lot of time, effort and money on security. Casinos have surveillance cameras that monitor the tables and slot machines, as well as catwalks in the ceiling above the floor that allow security personnel to look directly down, through one-way glass, on table and slot machine activities. They also have staff who watch over table games with a more broader view of the patrons, keeping an eye out for any blatant cheating such as palming, marking or switching cards and dice.
Most casino patrons aren’t trying to cheat the house, but it’s important to remember that there is a slight edge to every game. While the edge may be only a few percent, it adds up over time and gives the casinos enough money to spend on spectacular displays, hotel rooms, opulent dining and living quarters, limo service, airline tickets and other extravagant inducements for their best patrons.
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