A casino is a place where people can find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof. The modern casino adds a host of luxuries to the basic gambling experience, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. But there have been less lavish places that housed gambling activities and called themselves casinos as well.
Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice appearing in ancient archaeological sites. But the modern casino as a gathering place for a variety of gambling activities didn’t emerge until the 16th century during a gambling craze that swept Europe. European nobles gathered at “ridotti,” or private parties, to gamble and socialize.
Casinos rely on a combination of technology and rules of conduct to ensure security. Cameras track patrons as they play, and a high-tech “eye in the sky” allows security personnel to look directly down on table games or slot machines from catwalks suspended above the floor. Casino employees also look out for cheating, ranging from blatant palming to mark-switching on cards and dice.
Casinos also focus on customer service, rewarding frequent players with complimentary items or comps. In the 1970s, Las Vegas casinos gave away free hotel rooms, dinners, show tickets and limo service to gamblers who spent more than average time at the tables or slot machines. Today, casinos focus more on high-rollers who make large bets. They’ll often be invited to gamble in special rooms where the stakes can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.