What Is a Casino?

A casino, also known as a gaming house or gambling house, is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Casinos are most often built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops and other tourist attractions. In some countries, casinos are licensed and regulated by government agencies.

Gambling in some form has existed as long as humans have, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites. But the modern casino as we know it did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and wealthy Europeans gathered in elegant spa towns to play games like baccarat, roulette and blackjack.

While musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers provide much of the entertainment at casinos, slots, blackjack, craps and other games of chance are what make them profitable. These games have mathematically determined odds that always give the house an advantage over the players, a figure known as the house edge. Casinos rake in billions of dollars each year from gamblers, and a portion of these profits are returned to patrons as comps (complimentary goods or services).

To maximize profits, casinos rely on technology to ensure that all bets are placed correctly. Chips with built-in microcircuitry interact with electronic systems in tables to monitor the exact amount wagered minute by minute, while automated video cameras supervise each table, window and doorway. Elaborate surveillance systems offer a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” that can be adjusted by security workers to focus on suspicious patrons; these cameras can even detect anomalies in the spinning of a roulette wheel.