What is a Casino?

A casino is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. While a wide variety of other entertainment options exist at casinos — such as musical shows, fine restaurants and shopping centers — the vast majority of casino profits come from gambling. Games such as slot machines, poker and blackjack provide the basis for the billions of dollars that casinos rake in every year.

The precise origin of casino gambling is unknown, but betting in one form or another has almost certainly predated recorded history. Several archaeological sites have unearthed primitive proto-dice and carved six-sided gambling bones, but the modern casino as a gathering place for people to enjoy a wide range of gambling activities did not develop until the 16th century, when European aristocrats often held private parties at places called ridotti.

Gambling has become a major industry in many countries, with the United States especially well known for its large casinos and enormous Las Vegas resorts. But legal casinos can also be found in many other parts of the world, and they are increasingly popular as a tourist attraction and a source of revenue for local economies.

Casinos rely on a combination of human and technological resources to ensure fairness. Employees on the casino floor keep an eye on patrons to spot cheating and other problems; croupiers on the table games have a much broader view of all the action and can quickly detect suspicious betting patterns. Elaborate surveillance systems offer a high-tech “eye in the sky” that can watch each table, window and doorway at once.