What Is a Casino?


A casino is a place where various games of chance are played and gambling is the primary activity. While gambling probably predates recorded history with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice, casinos emerged in the 16th century as a popular way to gamble for money. Today’s casinos are lavish edifices that offer a variety of gambling activities under one roof. They add a host of other attractions to attract gamblers, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows.

Gambling is a major source of revenue for casinos, which make money by charging a built-in advantage on all wagers. The advantage can be small, less than two percent, but millions of bets add up to a large amount of cash. Casinos also generate income from other sources, such as a percentage of all slot machine payouts, and from the rental of hotel rooms and meeting space.

During the 1990s, casinos significantly increased their use of technology for general security and to supervise the games themselves. For example, “chip tracking” allows casino employees to monitor the exact amounts bet minute by minute and warn them immediately of any anomaly; roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly to detect any statistical deviation from their expected results. Video cameras are used to watch every table, window and doorway. Security personnel can adjust the cameras to focus on suspicious patrons. The casino industry also employs a variety of other techniques to discourage cheating, such as requiring players at card games to keep their cards visible at all times.