What Is a Casino?


A casino is a facility for certain types of gambling. While musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers attract patrons, casinos would not exist without the billions of dollars in profits raked in by gambling games like slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, keno and baccarat.

Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (carved knuckle bones) and dice found in archeological sites. However, the modern casino as a place to find a variety of gambling activities under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century, when the fad for gambling swept Europe and wealthy Italian nobles gathered in private gambling clubs called ridotti to wager on horse races and card games.

Modern casinos often employ two separate departments for security: a physical force that patrols the casino and responds to calls for assistance or reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity, and a specialized surveillance department that operates closed circuit television systems – the “eye in the sky” of the casino. Elaborate surveillance systems allow security personnel to watch every table, window and doorway in the casino through cameras positioned in ceilings or catwalks over the gaming floor, with a computer that adjusts the lens to focus on suspicious patrons.

To encourage gamblers, casinos offer free food and drinks, which helps them stay on the premises longer and possibly get drunk enough to lose their money more quickly – although this does not significantly reduce the house’s edge. The casinos also make it easy for gamblers to lose track of time, with windows and clocks scarce and chiming clocks not allowed.

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