What Is a Casino?


A casino is a facility for certain types of gambling. Often casinos are built near or combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shopping, and cruise ships. The Las Vegas valley has the largest concentration of casinos in the United States, followed by Atlantic City and Chicago. Many Native American tribes operate casinos.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive dice (astragali or cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found in archaeological sites. The modern casino, however, developed around the 16th century during a gambling craze. Italian aristocrats held private parties at houses called ridotti, where gambling was the main activity. Since gambling was technically illegal, the ridotti were not bothered by authorities.

Unlike a home game, where the player deals the cards, in casino poker and other table games the dealer handles this task. The house takes a percentage of the money wagered, and the player may be able to earn “comps” (free goods or services) such as hotel rooms, meals, or tickets for shows if they are considered to be good players.

Because large sums of money are handled within a casino, it is important for the operators to have effective security measures in place to prevent cheating and theft. Cameras that monitor every table and window are one simple measure, while more sophisticated systems offer a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” view of the whole casino from cameras in a room filled with banks of security monitors. To minimize the awareness of passing time, windows are rarely used and clocks are usually hidden or difficult to see.