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What Is a Casino?

What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment that offers different games of chance. It is a popular tourist attraction, particularly in cities with a large numbers of casino hotels such as Monte Carlo and Las Vegas. Some casinos also have restaurants and stage shows.

The term casino may refer to a specific building or room in which gambling activities take place, or it may refer to an entire gaming complex. In either case, a casino’s built-in advantages ensure that it will win money over time – regardless of individual patrons’ skill or luck. These advantages are called the house edge and can be mathematically determined. The casino profits from these built-in advantages by charging a “rake,” or percentage of each pot, to players who choose to gamble at its tables.

While gambling probably predates recorded history, the casino as a central locale for multiple forms of it did not develop until about the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian aristocrats began to hold private parties in rooms known as ridotti [Source: Schwartz]. The aristocratic nature of these venues helped them avoid legal problems resulting from their gambling activities.

Because a casino’s profitability depends on winning patrons, it spends a great deal of effort and expense on security. Casino staff watch the casino floor closely and can quickly spot blatant cheating (palming, marking, switching cards or dice). In addition to on-floor personnel, most casinos have catwalks in their ceilings that allow surveillance personnel to look directly down through one-way glass at all tables and slots.