What is a Casino?

A casino is a place that houses various games of chance for public play. It may also offer food and drinks, entertainment and a variety of other amenities. In the US casinos are regulated by state gaming control boards which have jurisdiction over gambling activities within their states. Some states also have a casino association that advocates for the interests of the industry.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found at the earliest archaeological sites. The modern casino emerged in the 16th century during a gambling craze that swept Europe. Italian aristocrats used to hold private parties at places called ridotti, where they could gamble away their inheritance [source: Schwartz]. These were essentially small clubs where gambling was the primary activity.

Today’s casinos use a wide range of security measures to prevent cheating and stealing by patrons and staff. These include surveillance cameras that are able to monitor a room from a single location and can be adjusted to focus on suspicious activity. These cameras are often mounted in the ceiling above table and slot machines. Other casinos have catwalks in the roof that allow security personnel to look directly down through one-way glass at the table and machine games.

Casinos are big business, and the profits they make can be enormous. A casino’s advantage over the player is known as its “house edge.” The house edge can be very small, a few percent or less, but it’s enough to earn casinos millions of dollars yearly.