What is a Casino?

A Casino is a place where people can gamble. Some casinos add stage shows and dramatic scenery to help lure patrons, but the basic idea is a place where gambling is the main activity. A casino is a business, and like any business it has to make money to survive. It makes money by offering games with a built in advantage for the house, which it calls its “house edge.” The advantage may be small (lower than two percent) but over millions of bets, it can earn the casino enough money to build lavish hotels, fountains, pyramids, towers and replicas of famous landmarks.

While gambling probably existed long before recorded history, it is not clear when the concept of the modern casino first developed. The word itself is Italian, and it likely developed during a gambling craze that swept Europe in the 16th century. The craze led to small private clubs called ridotti, where patrons could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof.

Because of the virtual certainty that they will win some bets, and lose others, casinos have to offer huge inducements to big bettors to keep them coming back. These can include free spectacular entertainment, low-fare transportation and elegant living quarters. In addition, casinos monitor their games and bets with sophisticated technology. For example, chip tracking allows casinos to know the exact amount of each bet minute-by-minute, and roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly to discover any statistical deviation from their expected results.