A casino is an establishment for gambling, and in some countries it can also be a place for other types of entertainment. It can be found in resorts, hotels, cruise ships, and standalone buildings. Many casinos feature a wide variety of games, from traditional card and dice to electronic gaming machines. Some even offer sports betting.
Gambling has existed as long as humans have, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice discovered in ancient archaeological sites. But the idea of a single venue where people could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century, when Europeans had a gambling craze. Italian aristocrats especially liked to hold private parties at places called ridotti.
Modern casinos use a range of tricks to lure and keep customers, from bright lights and loud noises to free drinks and merchandise. More than 15,000 miles of neon tubing illuminate the Vegas strip casinos, attracting passersby with a flash of color and sound. Casinos are also a visual feast for the eyes, with dazzling art deco designs and dozens of table and slot games.
In the 1970s, Las Vegas casinos aimed to attract as many people as possible to maximize their gambling revenue. This meant offering a lot of cheap travel packages, buffets, and show tickets—what is now known as comps. More recently, casinos have shifted their focus to a small number of very high-stakes gamblers who can make or break a casino’s profits. These gamblers are sometimes invited to play in special rooms off the main casino floor, where the stakes can be tens of thousands of dollars.