What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment specializing in all types of games of chance, where patrons can wager money or other things of value against each other. Some casinos are built on private islands, while others are located in luxury hotels or other upscale venues such as sports arenas. Many countries have laws regulating or prohibiting casino gaming.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, but the modern casino as a place to find all manner of gambling activities under one roof did not emerge until the 16th century. It was during this time that a gambling craze swept Europe, and Italian aristocrats would hold parties at places called ridotti [Source: Schwartz].

Today casinos are everywhere, with an enormous concentration in the Las Vegas Valley, but they also exist in nearly every major city and town, as well as on Native American reservations and on cruise ships. They generate huge amounts of revenue, and even small bets have a built in statistical advantage for the house. This can amount to less than two percent, but over millions of bets, it adds up.

Because such large sums of money are handled within a casino, both patrons and employees may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion with each other or independently. This is why casinos spend a great deal of effort and money on security.

Elaborate surveillance systems give a “eye-in-the-sky” view of every table, window and doorway. The cameras can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons by security workers in a room filled with banks of monitors.