What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of gaming options for patrons. In addition to traditional table games, some casinos offer live entertainment and themed restaurants. Some also serve alcohol. A casino may be located in a standalone building, or it may be part of a larger resort complex. Some casinos focus on a single type of gambling, such as poker, while others offer a wide range of games and are open to all comers. Casinos can be located in commercial or residential districts and are often built near hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships, and other tourist attractions.

Gambling has long been popular, and primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice have been found at ancient archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. In the seventeenth century a gambling craze swept Europe, and Italian aristocrats would hold private parties in places called ridotti (a combination of the Latin for “house” and the Italian word for party). This is when the concept of a casino as a place where a variety of different ways to gamble under one roof first developed.

Casinos make money by offering a small advantage to players on each bet they place. The house edge can be as low as two percent, but with millions of bets a day it adds up. For this reason casinos have lavish facilities, such as fountains, giant pyramids, towers and replicas of famous landmarks, to attract players.

Modern casinos use various technologies to ensure fair play and to prevent cheating. For example, cameras and computer monitors watch every table, window and doorway; electronic systems track bets placed minute by minute, and can detect any statistical deviation from expected results; roulette wheels are electronically monitored for anomalies; and slot machines are programmed to payout at random.

Something about the nature of gambling seems to encourage people to try to cheat or steal, and casinos spend a lot of time and money on security measures. Often this is in addition to other rules that are designed to make it difficult for people to cheat.

In the twentieth century, casinos began to be choosier about who they allowed to gamble, especially high rollers. These are gamblers who bet tens of thousands of dollars on each game they play. They usually gamble in special rooms, separate from the main casino floor and are given a host of comps to thank them for their patronage.

The average casino customer is a forty-six-year-old woman from a household with above-average income. This is a significant shift from the earlier days of the industry, when casino customers were mostly men over fifty. These older customers are more likely to have children and grandchildren, and are more apt to spend money on casino products than the younger generations who are not interested in gambling. This shift in the casino demographic has contributed to a significant increase in family-oriented casino products. Many casinos have incorporated these products into their offerings, especially in the United States and Canada.