A casino is an establishment that offers a variety of games of chance and some live entertainment. It is often combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shopping, and other tourist attractions. It also is known as a gaming house. In military and non-military usage, the term may refer to an officers’ mess. The word is a contraction of the Latin cazino, meaning ‘house’ or ‘room for gambling’.
Gambling has been popular throughout history, and casinos are modern facilities for various types of betting. They are designed to appeal to a wide variety of demographics, with slot machines, black jack, roulette, craps, baccarat and other table games being particularly well represented. The popularity of online casino games is also increasing, and some casinos specialize in creating new games to attract players.
The majority of the profits generated by casinos come from gambling, and the casino business is highly competitive. Many casinos have a built in advantage over the bettors, which is known as the “vig” or ‘rake’. This can be as low as two percent, but over time it can add up to enormous amounts of money. These funds are then used to build extravagant hotel-casinos with fountains, towers and replicas of famous landmarks.
In the past, casinos tried to maximize their profits by attracting large numbers of people to gamble. They would give away free room service, discounted show tickets and other perks to encourage people to gamble. This was a successful strategy, and casinos were able to generate huge revenue streams from people who would otherwise not have gambled.
Now, however, casinos are more discerning about who they invite to the tables and slots. They seek out high rollers, or players who make large bets and spend long hours at the table. These players are rewarded with comps, or complimentary goods and services, such as free hotel rooms, meals, show tickets and even limo service and airline tickets. This makes the average casino gambler a much more specialized demographic.
As casinos have evolved, so has the technology that is used to keep them running smoothly. Video cameras and computers are now routinely used for security and to oversee table games. For example, in the “chip tracking” system, betting chips have microcircuitry that allows them to be electronically monitored for minute-by-minute accuracy, and any statistical deviation from expected results is immediately flagged.
Despite the technological advances, casinos are still reliant on a fairly limited group of patrons to provide the bulk of their income. Studies indicate that the average casino gambler is a forty-six year old woman from a household with above average income. This demographic provides a steady stream of predictable revenue that is easier to manage than the unpredictable, volatile incomes from gamblers from other parts of the country or world. However, some economists argue that this type of casino revenue is actually harmful to a community, because it diverts spending from other forms of local entertainment and causes social problems such as addiction.