What is a Casino?


A casino is a place where people can gamble on games of chance. Some casinos have table games run by live dealers, while others have electronic machines that simulate gambling. The casino business is very profitable; in the United States alone, 51 million people visited a casino in 2002, and it is estimated that worldwide the number is double that figure.

Casinos make money by offering patrons complimentary goods and services, often referred to as comps. Free food, drink and entertainment are common comps, but casinos also offer hotel rooms, airline tickets, and limo service to high-spending players. This revenue stream allows casinos to maintain a house edge, which is mathematically determined to be uniformly negative from the player’s perspective, on all bets placed within a given game.

Although gambling probably took place before recorded history, the modern casino as an institution did not appear until the 16th century. That was when a gambling craze swept Europe, and wealthy nobles in Italy would gather for private parties at places known as ridotti. Although technically illegal, these parties were rarely bothered by authorities and were a great way to socialize among peers.

In the twenty-first century, casinos have shifted their emphasis from entertainment and hospitality to security and customer relations. For example, casino security staffs are now trained to spot suspicious behavior. Additionally, sophisticated surveillance systems are employed to monitor activity on the casino floor and in table games. This includes the use of cameras that can zoom in on specific tables or players.

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