What is a Casino?
A casino is a place where people can gamble on a variety of games. While gambling certainly predates written history (carved knuckle bones and primitive protodice can be found at archaeological sites), the modern casino as an institution offering various ways to wager under one roof probably developed in the 16th century during a European gambling craze. During this period, Italian aristocrats held parties in places known as ridotti to indulge their passion for betting on games of chance with their friends and servants.
While casinos today add a host of luxuries to lure patrons, the core business is still gambling. With the exception of a few cases, most casino games have a mathematical expectancy in favor of the house. This virtually assures a casino of gross profits, so it is very rare for a casino to lose money on any given day. In order to maximize their profits, casinos offer big bettors extravagant inducements such as free spectacular entertainment, transportation and elegant living quarters.
Other perks include comps, which are free goods and services offered to frequent players. These may include free hotel rooms, meals, tickets to shows and even limo service or airline tickets. Some casinos even have their own private clubs where they offer these perks to their high rollers.
Despite their sexy images and glamorous locations, casinos are not immune from the temptation of corruption and crime. As the business of casino gambling became more legitimate, organized crime figures took over many properties. The mobsters’ deep pockets helped them to invest in casinos and finance their growth. But the mob’s taint of illegal racketeering made it difficult for legitimate investors to get involved. Real estate investors and hotel chains eventually entered the casino business, buying out the mobsters’ holdings.