What Is a Casino?


A casino is a place where people gamble and play games of chance. While musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and lavish hotels help draw in the crowds, casinos would not exist without the billions of dollars in profits raked in each year by slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and other games of chance. While gambling probably existed well before recorded history, primitive protodice and carved knuckle bones have been found in archaeological digs. But the modern casino as an entertainment venue offering a variety of gaming options didn’t really develop until the 16th century, when a craze for gambling swept Europe. Nobles and aristocrats held parties in special rooms, called ridotti, where they could enjoy a variety of games of chance and socialize.

The word “casino” may have come from the Latin for small house, but today’s casino is a large building filled with poker tables and other gambling activities. In addition to the traditional table games, most casinos also have a selection of slot machines and other electronic games. Some even host concerts and other entertainment events. In the past, gangsters often controlled these venues, but as real estate investors and hotel chains realized they could make enormous profits from the business, mob influence faded.

Most casino games have some element of skill, but the mathematical odds always give the house an advantage. This advantage is known as the house edge and it ensures that the casino will earn a profit. In games where players compete against each other, the casino makes money by taking a percentage of each pot or by charging an hourly fee.

Casinos have strict security standards to keep out criminals and cheats. Casino employees closely monitor all the action and are trained to spot suspicious behavior like palming, marking cards or switching dice. They use high-tech cameras in the ceiling to provide a high-definition, “eye-in-the-sky” view of every table, window and doorway. Security workers in a separate room monitor the video feeds and can adjust the cameras to focus on particular patrons.

The casino in the elegant spa town of Baden-Baden opened its doors more than 150 years ago, drawing royalty and aristocracy from across Europe. Its architecture is inspired by the baroque flourishes of Versailles, and the casino has hosted stars like Marlene Dietrich. Today, the luxurious casino offers 316 slot machines and table games like baccarat and blackjack.

While many of the same people visit all casinos, each has its own distinct personality. Some have become world-renowned for their decor, food or service; others have attracted a younger, more hip clientele with themed nightclubs and high-tech gambling. But most of all, casinos are a fascinating look into how human beings can be drawn to the allure of chance. These examples have been programmatically selected from various online sources to reflect current usage of the word ‘casino.’ For more information, please consult the English Dictionary.