What Is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. The word is a portmanteau of the Spanish word for “house” and the French word for “game.” A casino may also refer to:

In modern use, the term can mean an enclosed area used for gambling or a room or series of rooms where this activity takes place. In the United States, a casino is a facility licensed by a state government to offer different types of gambling. These facilities are often combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops, convention centers and other tourist attractions. In some states, the term casino may also be used to refer to an Indian reservation or a gambling enterprise run by a tribe.

Although casino-style gambling has been around for thousands of years – primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in archaeological sites suggest that gambling is as ancient as human history – the modern casino as an entertainment center with a wide variety of games under one roof was first developed in Europe during the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept through Europe and Italian aristocrats began holding private parties called ridotti in which gambling was the primary activity.

Casinos make money from patrons’ bets by charging a small percentage of each wager to cover operating costs and provide an edge for the house. This advantage can be very small, less than two percent in some cases, but it can earn casinos billions of dollars each year. This money enables them to afford spectacular hotel and entertainment facilities, lighted fountains, shopping centers, and other amenities.

The large amounts of money handled within a casino can make both patrons and staff tempted to cheat or steal. For this reason, most casinos have strict security measures in place. Among the most important are surveillance cameras that monitor the action in all areas of the casino at all times. In addition, the routines of various games create certain patterns that are easily recognizable to security personnel. For example, the way dealers shuffle and deal cards or the expected reactions of players at various tables all follow a certain pattern.

Because of the need to be vigilant about possible security issues, most casino employees are trained to detect dishonest behavior. In addition to this, casino security is bolstered by the use of technology. Casinos are constantly upgrading their video monitoring systems. In some cases, specialized cameras are designed to oversee particular table games. Roulette wheels, for instance, are electronically monitored minute by minute to discover any statistical deviations from their expected results. Computer programs can also supervise the operation of slot machines and video poker, detecting any anomalies in their mathematical expectancy. These technological advances are improving the ability of casino personnel to spot and stop cheating and theft in real time.

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