What Is a Casino?
A casino, or gambling house, is a place where people can play games of chance. Many casinos also have restaurants, shopping centers and other amenities that attract visitors. A casino’s primary source of income is from the profits derived from the games of chance played there. While musical shows, lighted fountains and themed hotels help draw crowds, casinos would not exist without the millions of dollars in profit generated by slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and other games of chance.
The precise origins of casinos are obscure, but gambling in some form certainly predates recorded history. The first modern casinos developed during the 16th century, as a result of a gambling craze that swept Europe. Italian aristocrats gathered in private clubs known as ridotti to gamble and socialize, despite the fact that gambling was illegal.
Currently, casinos are located all over the world, and they continue to grow in size and complexity. They offer a variety of games, including traditional and electronic gambling devices, such as video poker and keno. Some casinos are devoted to particular types of games, such as sic bo (which is popular in China), fan-tan and pai-gow.
While most casino patrons gamble for fun, some do so to win large sums of money. To prevent cheating, theft and fraud, the casinos use sophisticated security systems to monitor all activity and provide a safe environment for their customers. Elaborate surveillance systems offer a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky,” allowing security workers to watch every table, change window and doorway simultaneously. In addition, many casinos use computer systems to supervise their own games. For example, a machine that tracks betting chips can instantly warn staff if an unusual pattern develops; and roulette wheels are electronically monitored to quickly discover any statistical deviation from their expected values.