What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that provides a range of gaming opportunities. Some casinos also offer other amenities, like restaurants and hotel rooms. They may also host live entertainment events. Casinos are a popular destination for people who want to gamble and have fun.

While gambling in some form certainly predates recorded history, the modern casino as a place where people can find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century. A gambling craze swept Europe at that time, and Italian aristocrats began holding private parties in buildings known as ridotti, where they could enjoy their favorite pastime without fear of persecution by the Inquisition [Source: Schwartz].

Casinos make money by charging patrons for the privilege of playing their games. Each game has a built-in mathematical advantage for the casino, so the house always wins, and it’s very rare for a gambler to win more than the casino can afford to pay out. To compensate for this edge, casinos often offer big bettors extravagant inducements, such as free spectacular entertainment, luxury transportation and elegant living quarters during their stay.

Because large amounts of cash are handled within a casino, the potential for theft and cheating is high. To combat these dangers, most casinos employ a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department. The former patrols the casino and responds to calls for assistance and reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity; the latter operates the closed circuit television system that keeps an eye on the action in real-time.