What is a Casino?



A casino is a building that houses a variety of gambling activities. While the modern casino adds a host of extras, like restaurants, free drinks and stage shows, it is fundamentally a place where people can risk their money by playing games of chance. While gambling has probably existed as long as humankind, the idea of a centralized casino that offers multiple types of gambling did not develop until the 16th century. At that time a gambling craze swept Europe, and wealthy aristocrats would gather to play games of chance in private clubs called ridotti.

Today, casinos are enormous mega-structures that offer a mindblowing number of games. They also feature hotels, restaurants, non-gambling entertainment, bars and swimming pools. Because large amounts of money are handled within casinos, they are prone to corruption and theft both by patrons and employees. As a result, casinos spend a lot of money on security measures.

Some of these measures are visible; for example, a casino may have a catwalk that allows surveillance personnel to look down directly on the tables and slot machines through one-way glass. More sophisticated measures are used behind the scenes. Video cameras monitor every table and slot machine, and computer systems supervise the games themselves to ensure that no statistical deviation from expected results sticks out. Some casinos even use fully automated roulette wheels, in which players bet by pushing buttons. The best casinos are the ones that draw the most people and have the highest revenue. Macau, for instance, brings in more than $13 billion a year, even though it is three times smaller than Las Vegas.