What Is a Casino?

What Is a Casino?


A casino is a special establishment that allows gamblers to spend time gambling and have some drinks or food. Depending on the place where it is located, casinos are regulated and sometimes have specific restrictions on the games that can be played. Despite these restrictions, casinos are still popular with people from all over the world. There are both land-based casinos and online casinos, with the latter being more popular than their land-based counterparts.

Something about the presence of large amounts of money seems to encourage gamblers to cheat and steal. This is why most casinos spend a lot of time, effort and money on security. In addition to having security cameras throughout the facility, many have other security measures. These may include fingerprint scanning, eye scanners and x-ray machines. Some casinos even have security dogs.

In the US, Nevada has the highest concentration of casinos, followed by Atlantic City and New Jersey. However, more and more states are legalizing casinos, including Iowa where riverboat gambling is popular. Native American casinos have also been growing rapidly.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found at archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. However, the casino as a place where people could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not appear until the 16th century during a gambling craze in Italy when wealthy nobles used ridotti, private parties held at their estates, to host gaming parties.

Casinos make their money by taking a percentage of each bet placed. This is called the house edge or vigorish, and it can be very small—less than two percent—but over millions of bets it adds up. This income is used to finance such extravagant extras as hotel rooms, fountains, giant pyramids and towers, and replicas of famous landmarks. In games like poker where players bet against each other, casinos take a percentage of each hand or spin, which is called the rake.

Because of their high profit margins, electronic slot machines are the economic backbone of casinos. They are monitored minute by minute to discover any statistical deviations that would signal a fraud. Elaborate surveillance systems allow security workers to keep an eye on every table, window and doorway from a room filled with banks of security monitors. In addition, some casinos use microcircuitry in betting chips to monitor the exact amount being wagered moment by moment. These systems are often referred to as “chip tracking.” Casinos also use computers to monitor roulette wheels and shuffled cards to detect any suspicious patterns. In addition to these technological advances, some casinos employ a variety of human supervisors to watch over the patrons and employees. These supervisors are often dressed in black and have a unique identifying code to help with security. In some cases, these supervisors have a background in law enforcement or the military. They are also required to attend frequent training seminars. This helps them spot and stop cheating or stealing by both patrons and staff.