What Is a Casino?


A casino, also known as a gaming establishment or a gambling hall, is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. While some casinos add a host of amenities to draw in customers, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows, the vast majority of money made at these facilities comes from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno are some of the most popular games. While a certain amount of skill is required to play these games, they are still considered games of chance, and the house always has an advantage over players.

Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in archaeological sites. But the modern casino as a place where people could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not emerge until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Wealthy Italian aristocrats used private clubs called ridotti to hold social gatherings and gambling parties. After a period of regulation by the Italian government, these clubs were allowed to open as large public casinos.

While modern casinos have a range of security measures, they are not immune to the problem of cheating. Casino employees are trained to watch for blatantly obvious cheating behaviors, such as palming or marking cards. They are also expected to pay close attention to betting patterns that may signal a player is attempting to change the odds in his or her favor. Casinos use video surveillance to keep track of what is happening on their gaming floors, and each person at a table game has a “higher-up” who keeps track of his or her performance.

In addition to surveillance, a casino’s security measures include strict rules of conduct and behavior for its patrons. Many casinos ban smoking and have separate areas for non-smokers. A casino may also have a dress code for its patrons, requiring that men wear long pants and shirts and women wear conservative dresses or skirts. Guests are often required to show identification when entering the casino.

While some gamblers consider the entertainment provided by casinos to be worth the cost, others complain that the industry has a negative effect on communities. They argue that casino revenue shifts spending from other forms of local entertainment and that the costs of treating compulsive gamblers offset any economic benefits the casinos may bring. Some even argue that the casinos lower property values in surrounding neighborhoods.