What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment offering a variety of games of chance. In the United States, casinos must be licensed and regulated by state gaming control boards or commissions. As a general rule, anyone of legal age may play at any casino. However, players are advised to check local gambling laws and self-exclusion lists before playing.

Gambling has a long history in many cultures. While primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice were found in ancient archaeological sites, the casino as an institution for multiple forms of gambling didn’t emerge until the 16th century when a betting craze hit Europe. Originally, casinos were small clubs called ridotti where Italian aristocrats would meet for social occasions and gamble. Although gambling was technically illegal, the aristocrats were not usually bothered by the authorities.

Modern casinos spend a great deal of time and money on security. They typically have a physical security force and a specialized department that monitors closed circuit television and other surveillance systems. The security departments work closely together and are generally successful at preventing crime.

Casinos make money by taking a percentage of each bet. The advantage of the house can be small (less than two percent), but when multiplied by the millions of bets placed at the tables and slots each year, it can provide substantial profits. Casinos can also earn income from the sale of food and drinks, hotel rooms and other amenities. Occasionally, they also take bets on sports events and other escapist activities.