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What Is a Casino?


A casino is a place where gambling takes place, and where various games of chance are played. Casinos often include other entertainment such as musical shows and lighted fountains, but they would not exist without games of chance. Casinos earn billions in profits every year from gamblers who place bets on a variety of casino games.

Gambling, in one form or another, likely predates recorded history. Primitive protodice, carved knuckle bones and a variety of other devices have been found at ancient archaeological sites. However, casinos did not develop as a central hub for gambling until the 16th century when a casino craze took hold in Europe. Italian aristocrats formed private clubs known as ridotti that provided a variety of ways to gamble under one roof.

Modern casinos may offer a wide variety of games, restaurants, free drinks and dramatic scenery to attract patrons. They make money by offering players a built in statistical advantage that exceeds the amount they pay for their bets. This advantage, called a house edge, can be as low as two percent or as high as 10 percent.

Given the large amounts of money that change hands within a casino, security is a big priority. Many casinos use surveillance systems and a full complement of employees to prevent cheating and theft. Dealers are heavily supervised and can easily spot blatant tactics like palming, marking and switching cards or dice. Table managers and pit bosses have a broader view of the gaming floor and look for betting patterns that indicate cheating by patrons.