A casino is a place where various types of gambling games are offered. The establishment may also house non-gambling activities, such as restaurants and entertainment venues. Regardless of the type of gambling, casinos are usually designed to attract customers and increase revenue. They may also feature luxury amenities such as spas and hotels.
Although gaming probably predates recorded history, the modern casino as an all-purpose entertainment center did not appear until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. This prompted Italian aristocrats to open private gambling clubs called ridotti. Although technically these were illegal, the government rarely bothered them.
In the United States, Atlantic City became a popular tourist destination for gambling in the 1970s, followed by Iowa’s legalization of riverboat casinos and other American Indian reservations, which were exempt from state anti-gambling laws. Casinos were later built in Puerto Rico and on cruise ships. During the 1980s, real estate developers and hotel chains bought out the mob-linked owners of many casinos, and began to run them without mob interference.
Most casinos depend on high-stakes gamblers for a large share of their revenue. Such gamblers typically gamble in special rooms, separate from the main floor, where the stakes can be several tens of thousands of dollars. They receive special inducements, such as free spectacular entertainment and transportation, luxurious living quarters, and extensive personal attention. Even smaller bettors are frequently offered reduced-fare transportation, free food and drinks, and other perks.