A casino is a place to gamble. More than that, though, it is a destination that offers the accoutrements of a luxury resort: restaurants, hotel rooms and dramatic scenery. There have been less lavish places that house gambling activities and are called casinos, but there is no doubt that the modern, ostentatious Las Vegas casinos are what defines the term.
Casinos are essentially profit-driven enterprises: every game has a built in advantage for the casino, and that edge, though tiny by comparison to the millions of bets placed on them, earns enough money for the casinos to build hotels with fountains, pyramids, towers and replicas of famous landmarks. The casinos also spend a fortune on security.
There is a good reason for that: Something about the nature of casinos attracts cheats and thieves, either in collusion or acting on their own. Security cameras throughout the building, and sophisticated video monitoring of the games themselves, are part of the solution. Chips have built-in microcircuitry to enable the casino to oversee exactly how much is wagered minute by minute; roulette wheels are monitored regularly to discover any statistical deviation from their expected results.
Other solutions are more subtle: the routines and patterns of casino gaming follow certain expectations; it is far easier for security people to spot unusual or suspicious behavior if that activity follows a familiar pattern. The elegant spa town of Baden-Baden, Germany, for example, has a casino that is considered by many to be the most beautiful in the world and has been depicted in numerous books (including Ben Mezrich’s Busting Vegas) and movies (including James Bond’s Goldfinger). Similarly, the Casino Monte Carlo in Monaco is the epitome of sophistication and elegance.