The Casino – The Gambling Establishment
From the elegant spa town of Baden-Baden to the teeming pai gow parlors of New York City’s Chinatown, casinos provide patrons with a variety of games of chance and live entertainment. Some casinos even offer plush hotels and restaurants. But while casinos do offer a great deal of extras to attract players, they are still essentially gambling establishments that make money from a built in advantage in the games offered.
Casinos have been around for some time, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found in the most ancient archaeological sites. But the concept of a place where gamblers could find all the popular ways to wager under one roof did not develop until the 16th century. A gambling craze swept Europe and Italian aristocrats started to hold private parties in places called ridotti [Source: Schwartz]. These were small clubs where gamblers would meet for social occasions and often play gambling games. Gambling was technically illegal but these clubs were so exclusive that the Italian Inquisition seldom bothered them.
While the mob had a strong hand in many casinos at the time, federal crackdowns and the threat of losing their gaming license pushed gangsters out of the business. Hotel chains and real estate investors took over, and it is these corporate giants that run the modern casinos. In the United States, slots and video poker machines are the economic backbone of most casinos, as they demand a relatively low house edge compared to other casino games.