What is a Casino?


A casino, or gambling house, is a place where people gamble and play games of chance. Musical shows, lighted fountains and elaborate hotels may lure visitors, but the billions of dollars in profits from gambling games are what keep casinos running.

Although gambling likely predates recorded history, the first casino as an establishment where patrons could find a variety of games under one roof did not appear until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. The earliest casinos were called ridotti, and were often held in private homes of Italian aristocrats, where the wealthy could play without worry of legal reprisals.

Gambling games are played in casinos for money or items of value, and a large part of a casino’s profit comes from the percentage of bets placed by high rollers, or “high-touch” players. To attract and retain these customers, casinos offer them a wide array of “comps,” or complimentary items. These include free hotel rooms, meals and drinks.

Casinos also use technology to monitor the games and prevent cheating. For example, roulette wheels have built-in microcircuitry to record the exact amount of money wagered minute by minute, and video cameras are used to quickly spot any anomalies in a game’s expected results. Casinos have also become much more sophisticated about the design of their buildings to enhance the gaming experience. They are bright, and sometimes gaudy, to stimulate the senses; windows and clocks are rare, as they are thought to distract players from the passing of time.