Casino: A Place for Gambling
Although musical shows, shopping centers and lavish hotels entice visitors to casinos, the majority of their profits—the billions of dollars raked in by American casinos annually—are from gambling. Slot machines and games like roulette, blackjack, craps, baccarat and poker are the main source of income. They allow patrons to play quickly and at low cost, but offer a higher house edge than other games. To compensate for this, casinos often adjust the payouts of individual machines to ensure that they are profitable.
Even though gambling almost certainly predates recorded history—primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice can be found in archaeological sites—the modern casino as an institution didn’t appear until the 16th century, when the popularity of games like poker and craps prompted people to meet in private clubs known as ridotti [Source: Schwartz]. These venues, technically illegal, rarely attracted the attention of legal authorities, so their owners were free to promote a variety of gambling activities.
Nowadays, casinos are designed to appeal to the senses with a mix of noise, light and excitement. Gambling tables are crowded together and the floor is lined with bright lights—more than 15,000 miles (24,100 km) of neon tubing is used to illuminate the Las Vegas Strip. The acoustic quality of the environment is also designed to be pleasing to gamblers’ ears. The sound of rattling coins and the clang of dropped tokens is constantly on the air. In addition, casino patrons are offered a range of perks, or “comps,” that encourage them to gamble and reward them for their loyalty.