The word casino is a French term meaning “little house.” This is a reference to the idea that gambling was once viewed as a home game, a place where people would gather to try their luck. Nowadays casinos are more like resorts, with entertainment, top-notch restaurants and hotels, and other amenities designed to appeal to a broad range of people.
There are many different kinds of casinos, from the sprawling Vegas strip to illegal pai gow parlors in Chinatown. Each attracts its own unique clientele. Some of them are open 24 hours a day, with shuttle buses bringing in tourists from New York City or Los Angeles. Others are more upscale, like the Bellagio in Las Vegas, with its dancing fountains and high-end shops. Still others are more specialized, such as the Monte Carlo in Monaco.
Casinos are designed around noise, light, and excitement. People shout out encouragement to their fellow players, and alcoholic drinks are easily accessible. The floor and walls are often decorated in bright colors that stimulate and cheer up players. In addition, casinos don’t have clocks on their walls because they want gamblers to lose track of time and keep playing.
As the casino industry evolved in the 1950s, organized crime figures began funding it. They had lots of cash from their drug dealing and extortion rackets, and they weren’t bothered by gambling’s seamy image. The mob’s involvement eventually caused legitimate businessmen to get into the business and buy out gangsters, with hotel chains and real estate investors leading the way.