In modern English, a casino is a facility which houses and accommodates certain types of gambling activities. Casinos are most commonly built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships or other tourist attractions. There is much debate over whether or not the social and economic consequences of casino gambling outweigh the initial revenue that may be generated. In the United States, many states are grappling with high unemployment and budget deficits and are now turning to legalizing casinos, often in places that are not tourist destinations. Some casinos are also known for hosting live entertainment events, such as stand-up comedy, concerts, and sporting events. Use of the word in the past, and modern use in some countries, does not necessarily involve gambling.
Etymology and usage
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.
There are examples of such casinos at Villa Giulia and Villa Farnese. In modern day Italian, this term designates a bordello (also called "casa chiusa", literally "closed house"), while the gambling house is spelled casinò with an accent.
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 19th century, and is presently used as a restaurant. The Catalina Casino, a famous landmark overlooking Avalon Harbor on Santa Catalina Island, California, has never been used for traditional games of chance, which were already outlawed in California by the time it was built.
History of gambling houses
The precise origin of gambling is unknown. The Chinese recorded the first official account of the practice in 2300 BC, but it is generally believed that gambling in some form 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 games of chance.
The first known European gambling house, not called a casino although meeting the modern definition, was the Ridotto, established in Venice, Italy in 1638 to provide controlled gambling during the carnival season. It was closed in the 1770 as the city government perceived it to impoverish the local gentry.
In American history, early gambling establishments were 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, along with Las Vegas and Reno. America's first legalized casinos were set up in those places. In 1978 New Jersey allowed gambling in Atlantic City, now America's second largest gambling city.
Gambling in casinos
Customers gamble by playing games of chance, in some cases with an element of skill, such as craps, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, and video poker. Most games played 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 sometimes give out complimentary items to gamblers.
Payout is the percentage won by players.
Casinos in the USA say that a player staking money won from the casino is playing with house money.
Video Lottery Machines (slot machines), have become one of the most popular form of gambling in casinos. Recently, investigative reports have been calling into question whether the modern day slot machine is addictive.
Rank Location Casinos Revenue (2009)
Revenue (2010 Projected)
Revenue (2011 Projected)
1 United States 57,240 56,500 58,030 2 Asia Pacific 21,845 32,305 41,259 3 Europe, Middle East, Africa 17,259 16,186 16,452 4 Canada 22 3,712 3,835 4,045 5 Latin America 425 528 594 Total 100,481 109,354 120,380
Rank Location Casinos Revenue (2009)
Revenue (2010 Projected)
Revenue (2011 Projected)
1 Macao 33 14,955 22,445 28,379 2 Las Vegas, United States 10,247 9,950 10,300 3 Singapore 2 NA 2,750 5,479 4 France 3,965 3,909 3,957 5 Atlantic City, United States 11 3,943 3,550 3,330 6 Australia 11 2,697 2,769 2,847 7 South Korea 17 2,401 2,430 2,512 8 Germany 2,073 2,055 2,081 9 South Africa 4 1,601 1,649 1,740 10 United Kingdom 1,212 1,193 1,209 11 Poland 1,089 1,091 1,126
While there are casinos in many places, a few places have become well-known specifically for gambling. Perhaps the place almost defined by its casino is Monte Carlo, but other places are known as gambling centers.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Monte Carlo has a famous casino popular with well-off visitors, which is a tourist attraction in its own right. A song and a film named The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo need no explanation—they clearly refer to the casino.
The casino has made Monte Carlo so well known for games of chance that mathematical methods for solving various problems using many quasi-random numbers—numbers with the statistical distribution of numbers generated by chance—are formally known as Monte Carlo methods. Monte Carlo was part of the plot in a few James Bond novels and films.
The former Portuguese colony of Macau, a special administrative region of China since 1999, is a popular destination for visitors who wish to gamble. This started in Portuguese times, when Macau was popular with visitors from nearby British Hong Kong where gambling was more closely regulated.
Casinos in the United States
There are almost 900 casinos now in the United States, with that number steadily growing as more states seek to legalize casinos. 38 states now have some form of casino gambling. Relatively small places such as Las Vegas are best known for gambling; larger cities such as Chicago are not defined by their casinos in spite of the large turnover.
Top American casino markets by revenue (2009 annual revenues):
- 1. Las Vegas Strip $5.550 billion
- 2. Atlantic City $3.943 billion
- 3. Chicago region $2.092 billion
- 4. Connecticut $1.448 billion
- 5. Detroit $1.36 billion
- 6. St. Louis $1.050 billion
- 7. Tunica Resorts, Mississippi $997.02 million
- 8. Biloxi, Miss. $833.50 million
- 9. Shreveport, La. $779.65 million
- 10. Boulder Strip (Las Vegas) $774.33 million
- 12. Reno, Nevada $715.23 million
- 15. New Orleans, La. $653.05 million
- 18. Downtown Las Vegas $523.82 million
- 19. Laughlin, Nevada $492.51 million
Indian gaming has been responsible for a rise in the number of casinos outside of Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
Given the large amounts of currency handled within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat and steal, in collusion or independently; most casinos have security measures to prevent this. Security cameras located throughout the casino are the most basic measure.
Modern casino security is usually divided between a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department. The physical security force usually patrols the casino and responds to calls for assistance and reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity. A specialized surveillance department operates the casino's closed circuit television system, known in the industry as the eye in the sky. Both of these specialized casino security departments work very closely with each other to ensure the safety of both guests as well as the casino's assets, and have been quite successful in preventing crime. Some casinos also have catwalks in the ceiling above the casino floor, which allow surveillance personnel to look directly down, through one way glass, on the activities at the tables and slot machines.
In addition to cameras and other technological measures, casinos also enforce security through rules of conduct and behavior; for example, players at card games are usually required to keep their hands visible at all times.
Over the past few decades, casinos have developed many different marketing techniques for attracting and maintaining loyal patrons. Many casinos use a loyalty rewards program used to track players' spending habits and target their patrons more effectively, by sending mailings with free slot play and other promotions.
One area of controversy surrounding casinos is their relationship to crime rates. 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. In a 2004 report by the US Department of Justice, researchers interviewed people who had been arrested in Las Vegas and Des Moines and found that the percentage of problem or pathological gamblers among the arrestees was three to five times higher than in the general population. According to some police reports, incidences of reported crime often double and triple in communities within three years of a casino opening.
- American Gaming Association
- Black Book (gaming)
- Casino token
- European Gaming & Amusement Federation
- Gambling in Macau
- Gambling in the United States
- Gaming Control Boards
- Gaming law
- Global Gaming Expo
- List of casinos
- Locals casino
- Native American gaming
- Online casino
- Online gambling
- Online poker
- Sin city
- Sports betting
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