When most people hear the word casino, they think of bright lights and big money. From the glitz of Las Vegas to the casinos of Atlantic City, there are many locations across the United States where patrons can try their hand at poker, blackjack and slot machines. Many of these places also provide visitors with dining and entertainment options, but they would not exist without the games of chance that drive their profits. This article looks at some of the many ways that casinos persuade people to gamble, the history behind them and some of the darker sides to their business.
The origin of gambling is not known for certain, but it seems to have been present in most societies throughout history. Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and Rome all had forms of entertainment based on games of chance. In modern times, casinos became a popular form of gambling. The first ones were built in Nevada and in Atlantic City, but over the years other places began opening up. These included Iowa, which had legalized riverboat gambling in the 1990s, and Native American casinos that sprung up at a rapid rate.
Casinos are a very social environment. Often players are surrounded by other gamblers, and this is especially true of craps and poker games. They may shout encouragement to each other or to the dealers. Waiters float around the casino, delivering alcoholic drinks to patrons. Nonalcoholic beverages and snacks are usually available free of charge. The whole atmosphere is designed to create a lot of noise, light and excitement.
In order to prevent cheating and theft, casinos have very tight security. A typical casino has a regular police force that patrols the building and responds to calls for help, but it also has a specialized security department that operates closed circuit television, referred to in the industry as “eye-in-the-sky.” This system allows security workers to monitor the activities of any patron at any time.
Something about gambling (perhaps the presence of large amounts of money) seems to encourage people to cheat and steal, whether it be in collusion or on their own. Because of this, most casinos spend a great deal of money on security measures.
Casinos are also a source of tax revenue for the cities where they are located. In addition, the large numbers of tourists who visit casinos bring in other incomes as well. This is a major reason why so many casinos are located in vacation and convention centers. While there are certainly some negative effects to the existence of a casino, most cities that have them are quite happy to have them as part of their community. For example, the elegant spa town of Baden-Baden, Germany, opened its doors to wealthy Europeans 150 years ago, and now it attracts tourists from all over Europe. This income is very important for the local economy. In fact, the presence of a casino has been known to increase property values in the surrounding area.