What is a Casino?


A casino is a building that houses a variety of gambling games. Musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers help attract customers, but casinos would not exist without the billions of dollars in profits that come from games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette and craps generate the majority of the revenue for casinos. Keno, baccarat and other games make up the rest of the profits.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in archaeological digs. However, the casino as a central venue for a wide range of gambling games did not develop until the 16th century. That was when a gambling craze swept Europe, and wealthy Italians gathered in private gambling clubs known as ridotti to gamble, socialize and drink.

Today’s casino has a high-tech eye in the sky, with cameras mounted in the ceiling that give surveillance personnel a clear view of all tables and slots. The cameras can be adjusted to focus on specific patrons by security workers in a separate room filled with banks of monitors. The machines themselves are controlled by on-board computer chips.

Most casino games have a built-in long-term advantage for the house, which is called the “house edge.” There are some games that require skill on the part of the player, such as video poker. Other games, such as roulette and baccarat, are purely games of chance. The casinos make their profit by taking a percentage of the money that is wagered, or by charging an hourly fee. Many states have legalized casinos. Nevada is best known for its huge Las Vegas casinos, but Atlantic City and New Jersey also have many. Many states regulate the casino industry, but the laws vary from state to state.