The Casino – A History Lesson

Casino is a modern form of entertainment that draws people in through dazzling lights, elaborate displays and glitzy music. But the real draw is gambling, which makes up the vast majority of the billions casinos rake in each year. While musical shows, lighted fountains and luxury hotels add to the glamour, games of chance such as blackjack, poker, roulette, craps, baccarat and slot machines provide the thrills that attract gamblers from around the world and that many people experience vicariously through casino-themed movies.

Gambling may have begun long before recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice discovered in archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. But the modern casino as an organized place for a variety of gambling activities under one roof did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Rich aristocrats would hold private parties in places called ridotti, where they could play their favorite card games without worrying about legal authorities.

Casinos are designed around noise, light and excitement to make it easier for gamblers to lose track of time. Windows and clocks are rare, and the lighting is often gaudy; red is a popular decorating color because it can affect people’s moods and increase their sense of anticipation. Casinos also use patterns to spot suspicious behavior: for instance, dealers shuffle and deal cards in regular routines, and betting chips have built-in microcircuitry that enables security personnel to monitor them minute by minute.