What is a Casino?


A casino is a building or room where people can gamble on games of chance or skill. The games played therein have mathematically determined odds that always give the house an advantage over players, and the casino takes a percentage of the money bet, called a rake or “vig.” In some countries, casinos are also places where various forms of entertainment such as shows, concerts, and sporting events are hosted.

While gambling probably existed long before recorded history (with primitive proto-dice and carved six-sided dice found in archaeological digs), the casino as a place where people could find all types of gambling under one roof did not appear until the 16th century during a gambling craze that swept Europe. Rich Italian aristocrats held private parties in rooms known as ridotti that were technically illegal but rarely bothered by authorities.

Today’s casinos have numerous security measures in place. Cameras watch the gaming floor, and dealers keep an eye on patrons to prevent blatant cheating such as palming or marking cards. Table managers and pit bosses have a wider view of the games and can spot betting patterns that indicate collusion or other cheating.

Casinos make most of their money from high rollers, or those who bet large amounts of money. To encourage such players to spend hours at the tables and slot machines, they offer them free goods or services, known as comps, that can include hotel rooms, meals, tickets to shows, and even limo service and airline flights.