A casino is a gambling establishment where people play games of chance for money. Although lighted fountains, musical shows, shopping centers and lavish hotels are the draw that pulls in the crowds, casinos would not exist without the games of chance: slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno generate the billions in profits that make casinos profitable enterprises.
The casinos of the 21st century are choosy about who they allow to gamble. They give “comps” (free goods and services) to players who are considered good bettors, based on the amount they spend at the tables or slots. These comps can include free hotel rooms, dinners and tickets to shows. Some casinos even offer limo service and airline tickets to the biggest bettors.
Gambling in its various forms has been part of almost every culture throughout history, from Ancient Mesopotamia and Rome to Napoleon’s France and Elizabethan England. But it is the casino that has given gambling its modern image, with glitzy decor and flashing lights.
The average casino gambler in 2005 was a forty-six-year-old woman who came from households with above-average incomes. She was a wife and mother, and she enjoyed playing the more traditional table games. She was also a frequent gambler because she was able to afford the luxury of going to the casino frequently. In the past, casinos drew large amounts of money from organized crime figures, who had plenty of funds earned through drug dealing and extortion. They supplied the capital that allowed the development of Las Vegas and Reno into the tourist destinations they are today.