What Is a Casino?

A casino is a building or room where people can gamble on games of chance or skill. Many casinos combine gambling with other entertainment such as shows, restaurants and bars. People can also find luxurious accommodations and other luxury amenities at some casinos.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and even carved six-sided dice found at some of the oldest archaeological sites. But the modern casino didn’t emerge until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and wealthy Italian aristocrats started gathering in private clubs known as ridotti [Source: Schwartz].

Today’s casinos are much more sophisticated. They concentrate their investments on high rollers—gamblers who place large bets. These patrons often gamble in special rooms away from the main floor, and they can earn comps worth tens of thousands of dollars, including free hotel suites and meals. Some casinos also monitor player behavior with video cameras and computer systems that keep track of each bet and game play, enabling them to detect statistical deviations from expected results quickly.

While the house always has an edge in casino games—even those involving skill, like poker—the average person who gambles long enough will lose money. To counter this, most casinos offer a wide variety of other activities, from sports to dining to theater, to keep players entertained. In addition, casinos are designed around the idea that gambling is a social activity, with loud noises and bright lights to stimulate the senses and encourage gambling.