What Is a Casino?



A casino is a place where gambling activities take place. The word may also refer to an organization that runs such a place, or to the business of providing such services. Often a casino offers entertainment in addition to its gaming facilities, such as restaurants, stage shows and dramatic scenery. Casinos may be operated by government agencies, private corporations or charitable groups. Some states have regulated casinos, while others prohibit them or limit their size. In some cases, casinos operate on American Indian reservations, which are not subject to state antigambling laws.

The concept of a casino is quite old, with primitive gambling devices such as dice and carved knuckle bones being found in archaeological sites. But the idea of a single facility where different kinds of gambling could be conducted under one roof did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. At that time, wealthy Italians would meet for parties in private clubs called ridotti [Source: Schwartz].

Something about gambling seems to attract cheats, thieves and scam artists, which is why casinos spend a large amount of money on security. Elaborate surveillance systems keep an eye on every table, window and doorway. Video cameras can be focused to zoom in on suspicious patrons and adjusted to focus on specific areas as required. In addition, electronic monitoring of games themselves allows the casino to supervise and quickly discover any statistical deviations from expected results.