What Is a Casino?


A casino is a facility where people can gamble and play games of chance. Some casinos add extra luxuries, like restaurants and stage shows, to attract more customers. But no matter how fancy the facilities, all casinos have to meet certain basic requirements to be considered a casino.

Gambling almost certainly predates written history, with primitive protodice, carved knuckle bones and even table games like roulette appearing in archaeological sites. But the concept of a place for a variety of gambling activities under one roof did not appear until the 16th century, when Italian aristocrats hosted private parties at clubs called ridotti. Gambling was technically illegal, but the wealthy patrons were rarely bothered by authorities.

Modern casinos employ a number of security measures to deter cheating and theft by either patrons or staff members. Most have a physical security force that patrols the premises and responds to reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity. In addition, a specialized surveillance department operates the closed-circuit television system that monitors the casino floor and its patrons.

A casino’s economic mainstay is slot machines and video poker machines, which generate income by accepting bets of any amount from a player within an established limit. Many American casinos also offer a wide range of card games, including blackjack, poker and craps, and some offer bingo. In order to entice big bettors, some casinos lower their advantage (the percentage the house takes) on these games to less than 1 percent.

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