What Is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Casinos are often combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops and/or tourist attractions.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found at archaeological sites. But casinos as a place to find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and wealthy Italian nobles created private clubs called ridotti [Source: Schwartz].

Every game in a casino has a built in statistical advantage for the house – sometimes as low as two percent, but over millions of bets it adds up. This edge is what earns the casino money and enables it to spend on fountains, towers and replicas of famous landmarks and create elaborate hotels. Often the edge is hidden, with varying payouts for video poker and slot machines.

Casinos also have to deal with the fact that some players will cheat, steal or lie in order to win. Security has to be vigilant to prevent this. For example, patterns in the way dealers shuffle and deal cards and the locations of betting spots on tables make it easier for security personnel to spot deviations from expected behavior.

Casinos are heavily reliant on technology to ensure the fairness of games. Video cameras and computers are used to monitor the activity in poker rooms, roulette wheels and other games. In addition, chips with microcircuitry interact with systems that oversee the exact amounts wagered minute-by-minute and alert staff to any statistical anomalies.