What Is a Casino?

A casino is a building where people can gamble and play games of chance. It’s the sort of place your grandmother might take a weekend bus trip to with her friends. A casino has many attractions to draw in patrons, including musical shows, lighted fountains and shops. But the vast majority of its profits come from gambling. Casino games include slot machines, blackjack, poker, craps and roulette.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (carved knuckle bones) and dice found in ancient archaeological sites. The modern casino came into being in the 16th century during a gambling craze that swept Europe. It was first popular among Italian aristocrats who gathered in private places known as ridotti to gamble. Technically, gambling in these private clubs was illegal, but the clubs were rarely bothered by the authorities [Source: Schwartz].

Most casinos offer a wide variety of gambling games and some even specialize in inventing new ones to attract customers. But the most popular games are slots, blackjack, and poker. Casinos often offer perks to loyal players, called comps, in the form of free hotel rooms, meals, and tickets to shows.

Casino security starts with the staff, who have to watch all of the activity with a close eye. They’re trained to notice patterns and deviations from the expected, such as a player palming or marking cards. They also look out for the more subtle signs of cheating, like a gambler’s erratic behavior or the way dealers shuffle and deal cards.