What Is a Casino?

A casino (or gambling house) is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Many casinos also offer food and drink, and some even host live entertainment events. Some are located in resorts or hotels, while others stand alone. Casinos have a reputation for being loud, flashy and exciting places to gamble, with music and lighting designed to stimulate gamblers. The term casino may also be used to refer to a specific game within a casino, such as craps or poker.

Modern casinos use a variety of technology to oversee games and prevent cheating. For example, chips with built-in microcircuitry enable casinos to oversee the exact amount of money wagered minute by minute; roulette wheels are regularly monitored electronically to discover any statistical deviation from their expected results. Likewise, casino patrons are typically subject to electronic surveillance and a constant flow of video cameras.

Despite the high-tech surveillance, casinos depend on their players to make them profitable. Casinos give out complimentary items or comps to big spenders, known as “big rollers.” These can include free hotel rooms, meals, show tickets, limo service and airline tickets. To qualify for these comps, players must swipe a player’s card before each gambling session. The cards are linked to a database that tracks gambling habits and spending patterns.

While gambling certainly predates recorded history, the concept of a casino as an establishment that offers a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century, when Italian aristocrats would hold private gambling parties at houses called ridotti. Although technically illegal, these parties were rarely bothered by the authorities.