A casino is a facility that houses and accommodates certain types of gambling activities. Casinos are most commonly built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships and other tourist attractions. Some casinos are known for hosting live entertainment events, such as stand-up comedy, concerts, and sporting events. Casino da Póvoa, a Portuguese casino that opened in early 1930s.
The term “Casino” is of Italian origin, the root word being “Casa” (house) and originally meant a small country villa, summerhouse or pavilion. The word changed to refer to a building built for pleasure, usually on the grounds of a larger Italian villa or palazzo. Such buildings were used to host civic town functions – including dancing, music listening and gambling.
During the 19th century, the term “casino” came to include other public buildings where pleasurable activities, including gambling, and sports took place. An example of this type of building is the Newport Casino in Newport, Rhode Island.
Not all casinos were used for gaming. The Copenhagen Casino was a theatre, known for the use made of its hall for mass public meetings during the 1848 Revolution which made Denmark a constitutional monarchy. Until 1937 it was a well-known Danish theatre. The Hanko Casino located in Hanko, Finland – one of that town’s most conspicuous landmarks – was never used for gambling. Rather, it was a banquet hall for the Russian nobility which frequented this spa resort in the late 1800s, and is presently used as a restaurant. The so-called “Casino”, a famous landmark overlooking Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island, has never been used for traditional games of chance, which were already outlawed in California by the time it was built.
History of casinos
The precise origin of gambling is unknown. The Chinese recorded the first official account of the practice in 2300 B.C., but it is generally believed that activity of gambling, in some way or another, has been seen in almost every society in history. From the Ancient Greeks and Romans to Napoleon’s France and Elizabethan England, much of history is filled with stories of entertainment based on the games of chance.
In American history, early casinos were originally known as saloons. The creation and importance of saloons was greatly influenced by four major cities; New Orleans, St. Louis, Chicago and San Francisco. It was in the saloons that travelers could find people to talk to, drink with, and often gamble with. During the early 20th century in America, gambling became outlawed and banned by state legislation and social reformers of the time. However, in 1931, gambling was legalized throughout the state of Nevada, and Las Vegas, spawning America’s first legalized casinos. New Jersey, allowed gambling in Atlantic City in 1978 which is America’s second largest gambling city. Other regional centers for gaming in the U.S. are Tunica Resorts, Mississippi and in the Gulf Coast region around Biloxi.
Gambling in casinos
Customers gamble by playing slot machines or other games of chance (e.g., craps, roulette, baccarat) and some skill (e.g., blackjack, poker) (for more see casino games). Games usually have mathematically-determined odds that ensure the house has at all times an advantage over the players. This can be expressed more precisely by the notion of expected value, which is uniformly negative (from the player’s perspective). This advantage is called the house edge. In games such as poker where players play against each other, the house takes a commission called the rake. Casinos often give out free items, known as comps to people who are gambling. Often, in most casinos, the more money a player uses the more benefits or comps the player gets. The casino determines the comps a player shall receive based upon a formula directly related to the player’s average bet, the number of hours of play, and the percentage that the casino will win on the player. Comps can range in anything from free drinks during play to penthouse suites, free airfare, limo service, and free food.
Payout is the percentage won by players.
Playing with house money refers to the situation where a winning player is placing bets with money that has been won from the casino.
Casinos in the United States
A sign at the Thousand Islands Casino
Casinos focus greatly on security, considering that it is a 30 billion dollar industry.[when?] Large amounts of currency move through a casino, tempting people to cheat the system. Security today consists of cameras located throughout the property operated by highly trained individuals who attempt to locate cheating and stealing by both players and employees.
Modern casino security is usually divided between a physical security force, which patrols the casino floor and responds to calls for assistance and reports of criminal and/or suspicious activities, and a specialized surveillance department, that operates the casino’s closed circuit television (known in the industry as eye in the sky) system in an effort to detect any misconduct by both guests and employees alike. Both of these specialized casino security departments work very closely with each other to ensure the safety of both guests and the casino’s assets. Some casinos also have catwalks in the ceiling above the casino floor. These catwalks allow surveillance personnel to look directly down, through one way glass, on the activities at the tables and/or slot machines.
One area of controversy surrounding casinos is their relationship to crime rates. Many casino opponents contend that casinos contribute to crime, and some recent research supports this. However, economics studies that do show a positive relationship between casinos and crime usually fail to consider the visiting population at risk when they calculate the crime rate in casino areas. Such studies thus count the crimes committed by visitors, but do not count visitors in the population measure, and this overstates the crime rates in casino areas. Part of the reason this methodology is used, despite it leading to an overstatement of crime rates is that reliable data on tourist count are often not available.
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