What is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that offers various gaming activities, like slot machines, table games and more. These are popular among players and bring in billions in profits every year. They are located in many countries and offer a variety of games. They also have high-end hotels, shopping centers and elaborate themes.

Casinos earn their money by offering a mathematical advantage to their patrons in exchange for the millions of bets they take in a day. This advantage can be small (less than two percent) but it adds up to a huge gross profit. Besides that, casinos earn extra money by charging for admission, renting rooms and selling drinks and cigarettes.

Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in archaeological sites around the world [Source: Schwartz]. But the modern casino as a place for people to find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century, when Europeans developed a gambling craze. Italian aristocrats met in private clubs called ridotti to gamble and socialize, even though it was technically illegal.

Mobster-run casinos became common after the 1950s, but as real estate investors and hotel chains gained deeper pockets they bought out the mafiosi and started their own legal operations. Those casinos have a more sophisticated approach to security, including catwalks that enable surveillance personnel to look down on the tables and slots from above. The patterns of gambling behavior that are established in these environments make it easier for security to spot anything that is out of the ordinary.