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What Is a Casino?

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When most Americans think of casino, they probably picture one of the megaresorts in Las Vegas-a massive hotel and entertainment complex blazing with neon lights, excitement, and gambling. But Merriam-Webster’s definition of a casino is much more expansive: a building or room used for social amusements, especially gambling. In fact, the word is so common that many people don’t realize that casinos are not just a form of gambling but also include places where other forms of recreation can be found.

The popularity of casino gambling has been fueled by the rise of the Internet and advances in communications technology. As a result, casino businesses have become more accessible than ever. Some people are even able to play games online from home. In addition to the traditional gaming tables, most modern casinos have electronic machines and a wide selection of slots.

Casinos are designed to stimulate gamblers’ senses, using light and noise to draw their attention and distract them from their losses. More than 15,000 miles of neon tubing light the casino floor of the Las Vegas Strip, and bells, whistles, and the cling clank of coins dropping in slot machines add to the excitement. Most casino games offer a high return on investment, and so attract large bettors who can easily win big money.

The casino industry has become an economic powerhouse in many parts of the world. In Nevada, where legal casino gambling began in 1931, it contributes nearly 40 percent of the state’s total tax revenue. Casinos are also a significant source of jobs, particularly in tourist-driven areas such as Las Vegas.

A recent poll by the Gallup Organization indicated that about 30% of American adults had visited a casino in the previous year. This is up significantly from the low of 20% reported in 1989.

Most of the respondents who gambled in a casino selected slot machines as their favorite gambling game. Card games (including blackjack and poker) and betting on sporting/racing events ranked higher than other types of gambling, but were less popular.

Casinos are constantly experimenting with new ways to encourage gambling, and some of the most successful innovations have been in the use of technology. In a casino game called “chip tracking,” for example, betting chips are wired to a computer system that oversees the exact amount of money placed minute by minute and alerts managers to any statistical deviation from expected results. In addition, some casino websites allow users to geolocate their current location with a click of a button, and then display a list of casinos that are within a given distance (often as the crow flies).) These innovations have made it possible for gamblers to enjoy the thrills of a casino without leaving home. In the United States, for instance, such websites as CasinosAvenue make it easy to find the closest casino.

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