A casino is an establishment that allows patrons to gamble by playing games of chance. Whether it’s the fanciful lighted fountains of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the exotic location of the Ibiza Gran Hotel in Spain or the luxurious gambling rooms of Monte Carlo in Monaco, these casinos have made an indelible mark on our culture and have established themselves as the pinnacle of the gambling industry. This article takes a look at the history behind these iconic casinos, what they offer their patrons and how they keep them coming back for more.

Gambling has been a part of human culture for millennia, starting around 2300 BC in China with wooden blocks, moving to dice by 500 AD and then to card games in the 1400s. Modern casinos feature a wide range of games, but most are focused on slot machines and table games like blackjack and roulette. In most cases, these games have a mathematical advantage for the house, which is known as the house edge. This house edge is why casinos rarely lose money.

To maximize their profits, casinos focus on attracting high rollers and keeping them there. They do this by offering them free or discounted food, drinks and accommodations. The casino’s interior design is also meant to create a sense of luxury and excitement. Lush carpets and richly tiled hallways are often used, and the lighting is carefully designed to minimize awareness of time passing. Red is a popular color for casino decoration, as it stimulates the senses and encourages gamblers to stay longer.

The infamous gangsters of the 1930s and 1940s may have run some of the earliest casinos, but with federal crackdowns and mob influence decreasing, real estate investors and hotel chains saw an opportunity to build more legitimate gambling operations. These new casinos incorporated many of the same glitz and glamour to lure in gamblers.

Although they are famous for their entertainment offerings, including musical shows and lighted fountains, it is the games of chance that bring in the most revenue. Slots, blackjack, poker and a host of other gambling games account for the billions in profits that casinos rake in each year. However, it’s important to note that these profits come at a cost. In fact, studies have shown that casinos actually reduce overall economic activity in their respective communities. This is mainly due to the loss of local spending on other forms of entertainment and the increased healthcare costs associated with compulsive gambling. These costs can far outweigh the initial profits from the casino itself. Despite these drawbacks, the casino remains an integral part of the gaming industry and will continue to be a popular attraction worldwide. OLBG looks at 10 of the world’s most iconic casinos and how they have changed our culture.

The Casino – A Brief History