What Is a Casino?

A casino is an establishment for gambling. Casinos may also offer other attractions such as entertainment, restaurants and retail shopping. Some casinos are built near or combined with hotels, resorts, cruise ships or other tourist attractions.

The term casino originated in the mid 19th century from the Italian aristocratic game of chemin de fer, which was played at parties known as ridotti [Source: Schwartz]. This gambling craze spread throughout Europe and the United States. Casinos were founded to capitalize on this trend, attracting tourists from across the country and the world.

Each casino offers a variety of games and betting limits. The most popular are roulette, baccarat and blackjack. Some casinos even have video poker machines, which can be programmed to return a certain percentage of money betted, or “vigorish”, to the house.

Because of the large amounts of cash handled in a casino, security is a big concern. Several types of security measures are used. Dealers keep their eyes peeled for any blatant cheating such as palming or marking cards or switching dice. Table managers and pit bosses have a broader view, making sure patrons are not colluding to win at their tables or stealing from one another. Each person in a casino has a supervisor who keeps track of their performance.

Casinos generate huge revenues and create a lot of jobs. However, they are not without their critics. Some studies suggest that casinos may actually be a drain on the economy, pulling dollars away from other forms of entertainment and contributing to problems like compulsive gambling. Additionally, they often harm local real estate markets and hurt the quality of life for residents.

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