What Is a Casino?


There is something about the haze of smoke and glare of flashing lights that draws people into casinos, whether they are looking for a place to play poker, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, or some other game. The modern casino is a massive complex of gaming rooms – and the games themselves can be quite varied.

Gambling as a form of entertainment has predated recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. The modern casino as a place to find all these different ways to gamble under one roof is relatively new, having developed around the 16th century during a gambling craze among European aristocrats. These “ridotti” were often secluded places where the games could be played without interference from authorities.

Casinos make money by offering a built-in advantage to the house on every bet placed, usually no more than two percent. This may seem small, but over millions of bets it generates enough money to finance the luxuries of a modern casino – a hotel, fountains, shopping center and replicas of famous buildings. Casinos have to hire mathematicians and computer programmers who track game results and analyze odds in order to stay competitive with their rivals, as well as ensure that the house always wins.

A casino must also keep a close eye on its patrons, both to protect their assets and prevent cheating and theft. Security measures are very thorough, with cameras located throughout the facility and an eye-in-the-sky surveillance system that watches every table, chair, window, doorway and more, allowing security to spot patterns that indicate potential problems.