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A casino is a facility that houses and accommodates certain types of gambling activities. Casinos are most commonly built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships and other tourist attractions. Some casinos are known for hosting live entertainment events, such as stand-up comedy, concerts, and sporting events.

Etymology and usage

The term "Casino" is of Italian origin, the root word being "Casa" (house) and originally meant a small country villa, summerhouse or pavilion. The word changed to refer to a building built for pleasure, usually on the grounds of a larger Italian villa or palazzo. Such buildings were used to host civic town functions – including dancing, music listening and gambling. There are examples of such casinos at Villa Giulia and Villa Farnese. In modern day Italian, this term designates a bordello (also called "casa chiusa", literally "closed house"), while the gambling house is spelled casiṇ with an accent.

During the 19th century, the term "casino" came to include other public buildings where pleasurable activities, including gambling, and sports took place. An example of this type of building is the Newport Casino in Newport, Rhode Island. Not all casinos were used for gaming. The Copenhagen Casino was a theatre, known for the use made of its hall for mass public meetings during the 1848 Revolution which made Denmark a constitutional monarchy. Until 1937 it was a well-known Danish theatre.

The Hanko Casino located in Hanko, Finland - one of that town's most conspicuous landmarks - was never used for gambling. Rather, it was a banquet hall for the Russian nobility which frequented this spa resort in the late 1800s, and is presently used as a restaurant. The so-called "Casino", a famous landmark overlooking Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island, has never been used for traditional games of chance, which were already outlawed in California by the time it was built. In military usage in Spanish and German, a casino or kasino is a mess; a confusing linguistic false friend for translators.

History of casinos

The precise origin of gambling is unknown. The Chinese recorded the first official account of the practice in 2300 B.C., but it is generally believed that activity of gambling, in some way or another, has been seen in almost every society in history. From the Ancient Greeks and Romans to Napoleon's France and Elizabethan England, much of history is filled with stories of entertainment based on the games of chance.

One of the first known casinos was the Casiṇ di Venezia, established in Venice Italy around 1638 which is still currently in operation. In American history, early casinos were originally known as saloons. The creation and importance of saloons was greatly influenced by four major cities; New Orleans, St. Louis, Chicago and San Francisco. It was in the saloons that travelers could find people to talk to, drink with, and often gamble with. During the early 20th century in America, gambling became outlawed and banned by state legislation and social reformers of the time. However, in 1931, gambling was legalized throughout the state of Nevada, and Las Vegas, spawning America's first legalized casinos, would become world famous. In 1978, New Jersey allowed gambling in Atlantic City, now America's second largest gambling city. Other regional centers for gaming in the U.S. are Tunica Resorts, Mississippi and in the Gulf Coast region around Biloxi.

Gambling in casinos

In most jurisdictions worldwide, gambling is limited to persons over the age of license (18 or 21 years of age in most of the United States and 16 to 21 in most other countries where casinos are permitted).

Customers gamble by playing slot machines or other games of chance (e.g., craps, roulette, baccarat) and some skill (e.g., blackjack, poker) (for more see casino games). Games usually have mathematically-determined odds that ensure the house has at all times an advantage over the players. This can be expressed more precisely by the notion of expected value, which is uniformly negative (from the player's perspective). This advantage is called the house edge. In games such as poker where players play against each other, the house takes a commission called the rake.

Casinos often give out free items, known as comps to people who are gambling. Often, in most casinos, the more money a player uses the more benefits or comps the player gets.

The casino determines the comps a player shall receive based upon a formula directly related to the player's average bet, the number of hours of play, and the percentage that the casino will win on the player. Comps can range in anything from free drinks during play to penthouse suites, free airfare, limo service, and free food.

Payout is the percentage won by players. Playing with house money refers to the situation where a winning player is placing bets with money that has been won from the casino.

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