What is a Casino?


Casinos are social gatherings where people play gambling games to win money. The games are mostly luck-based, but some involve skill (e.g. poker and craps). Players are often surrounded by other gamblers and sometimes by security staff. The atmosphere is noisy and bright. Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase and served by waiters circulating throughout the casino. There are also nonalcoholic drinks and snacks.

The casino business is all about people, and casinos spend a lot of time and effort to keep their patrons happy. They offer a variety of perks, or comps, to lure gamblers in and keep them playing. For example, they may give players free food, drinks and show tickets. They may also offer discounted travel packages and hotel rooms.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. But the casino as a place to find a wide range of gambling activities under one roof did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats would gather in private clubhouses, called ridotti, to gamble and enjoy each other’s company.

These social activities helped attract high rollers, or gamblers who make large bets. To maximize their profits, casinos gave these high rollers extravagant inducements such as free spectacular entertainment, expensive transportation and elegant living quarters. They also offered less affluent gamblers less-expensive comps. Today, modern technology has made casinos even more sophisticated. For example, video cameras monitor the actions of players and dealers at table games. Electronic systems in the tables record the exact amounts of bets minute-by-minute, and computers monitor the results to discover any statistical deviations.