What Is a Casino?


A casino is a place where people can gamble on games of chance. It may also have other entertainment features such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. Its primary business is gambling, however, and this brings in billions of dollars in profits to its owners every year.

Though gambling likely predates recorded history, the casino as a place to find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not appear until the 16th century, when a flurry of European gambling manias made it popular. Initially, casinos were private places for the rich known as ridotti, which featured gaming tables and other amenities that appealed to aristocrats, even though they technically were illegal [Source: Poley].

Casinos use various security measures to protect their patrons. Some are technological, such as video cameras and computer systems that oversee the games themselves. In addition, casino employees patrol the floor to watch for blatant cheating and theft. They also have a broader view of table games to detect shady betting patterns that may signal suspicious activity.

The majority of a casino’s profits come from the vig, or house edge, built into games such as blackjack, roulette and slot machines. The house edge can be very small, or it can reach as high as two percent or more. Casinos earn additional money by giving out complimentary goods and services to gamblers, referred to as comps. These may include rooms, food, show tickets, limo service and airline tickets.