A casino is a public place where people can play a variety of gambling games. It may have restaurants, stage shows and dramatic scenery to attract visitors, but the basic definition of a casino is a place where gambling is the primary activity. The word casino has been used to describe places that are more lavish than the traditional Nevada strip casinos, but there are also less opulent facilities that offer gaming activities.
In the early years of casino gambling, organized crime figures provided much of the capital needed to build and operate casinos in Nevada. Because these establishments carried a taint of illegal gambling, legitimate businessmen were reluctant to invest in them. The mafia, however, saw a golden opportunity to finance the growth of Las Vegas, and many mobster-owned casinos were built during this period. Some of these were simply fronts for their illegal activities, but others were highly luxurious, offering a wide range of high-end services and amenities.
Casinos are very expensive to build and operate, so they must maximize their gambling revenue in order to stay profitable. To achieve this, they offer a variety of perks to encourage gamblers to spend more money and rewards those who do. The most common of these perks are free goods or services, which are referred to as comps. Examples of comps include meals, hotel rooms, show tickets and limo service. Most casinos have information desks where customers can find out how to receive their comps.
In addition to the perks offered to gamblers, many casinos have elaborate security measures. These may include cameras in all areas, electronic monitoring of table game results and a variety of other technological devices. These tools enable casinos to keep track of bets and payouts, prevent cheating and fraud, and spot any statistical deviations from expected outcomes.
Although most casinos have a wide selection of table and slot machines, they may also offer other types of gambling. Asian casinos, for instance, often feature traditional Far Eastern games such as sic bo and fan-tan. European casinos may offer baccarat, chemin de fer, or boule. In the United States, most casinos feature blackjack and poker.
In the twenty-first century, casinos have become choosier in their investments, focusing on the “high roller” market. These are players who make very large bets, sometimes in the tens of thousands of dollars. These bettors typically gamble in special high-limit rooms, which are separated from the main gambling floor. In return for their large bets, these players are given extravagant inducements such as free luxury suites and personal attention.
In 2005, a survey conducted by Harrah’s Entertainment revealed that the typical casino gambler is a forty-six-year-old female from a household with above-average income. This demographic was a slight shift from the older, female, Caucasian population that had been the dominant group of casino gamblers for decades. The survey included face-to-face interviews with 2,000 American adults and questionnaires mailed to 100,000 households.