A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of games to its patrons. These games are primarily based on chance, though some have an element of skill. In most cases the house always wins, but this does not mean that players cannot win large sums of money.
Casinos vary in size and layout, but all feature gaming floors where patrons can wager and play games of chance. They also offer restaurants, bars, and other amenities that enhance the patron’s experience. Casinos are often located in tourist destinations and combine gambling with other entertainment options such as theaters, nightclubs, and retail shopping. Some are owned by hotel chains and are located in or near airports. Others are standalone buildings that focus solely on gambling.
Although gambling likely predates recorded history, the first modern casinos were opened in Europe in the 16th century as part of a betting craze that swept the continent at the time. During this period, wealthy Italian aristocrats would hold private gambling parties in their homes called ridotti, which were technically illegal but rarely bothered by legal authorities [Source: Schwartz].
Today’s casinos are built with the same level of luxury as hotels and resorts, offering everything from outdoor swimming pools to chandeliers that drip 21 miles of crystal beads. The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, for example, was designed to be sexy and uninhibited, a casino that dared to be different in a town that is renowned for its over-the-top spectacles. The hotel’s amenities include a swank residential-style room, a bowling alley, and an expansive casino that is topped by columns that project live video.
A casino’s profit depends largely on the number of people who gamble and their level of winnings. To maximize profits, most casinos offer high-rollers extravagant inducements such as free spectacular entertainment, transportation, and elegant living quarters. Lesser bettors may be offered reduced-fare transportation, meals and drinks, or free gaming activities such as slot machines or table games.
While the concept of a casino is not new, its popularity has increased greatly with the rise of the Internet and the advent of mobile phones that allow people to gamble while traveling. Several states have passed laws that permit residents to gamble from the comfort of their homes. Others have legalized casino gambling as a way to bring in tourists, a lucrative business that can generate billions of dollars in revenue for local communities.
Despite the economic benefits, there are many who oppose casino gambling. Critics contend that the industry diverts spending from other forms of entertainment and hurts local property values. They also argue that the cost of treating compulsive gambling and lost productivity erodes any financial gains the casinos might generate. In addition, they argue that the industry contributes to crime by encouraging people to steal, cheat or scam their way into a jackpot. The sexy, uninhibited Cosmopolitan might be the most polarizing of all the casinos in this list, but it certainly has the best rooms.