What is a Casino?


A casino is like an indoor amusement park for adults where the majority of the action, and profits, come from games of chance. Although musical shows, lighted fountains and elaborate hotels help lure in customers, casinos would not exist without games such as slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, poker and baccarat. These games, which rely on luck or skill and are conducted by dealers, create the billions of dollars in profits casinos generate each year.

Gambling has been a part of human society for millennia, with primitive protodice and carved knuckle bones among the earliest archaeological finds. But the modern casino as we know it did not emerge until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian aristocrats held private parties in venues called ridotti (after the word for dice).

Most of today’s casinos have evolved from these small clubs into sprawling facilities that feature gaming of all kinds. They are usually divided into three categories: gaming machines, table games and random number games. Gaming machines, which are operated by computer chips and don’t require the involvement of croupiers or dealers, include such games as slot machines and pachinko. Table games such as blackjack and craps involve players who compete against the house, or casino, rather than each other. In such games, the dealers are trained to detect cheating and theft by patrons.

Because large amounts of money are handled within a casino, security is an important issue. Besides employing trained personnel to prevent criminal acts, some casinos also use video surveillance systems that give them a bird’s eye view of the entire facility. Cameras can be directed to monitor specific tables, windows and doors, and are positioned to capture the most likely spots of trouble.