The Casino – A History Lesson


The modern casino is like an indoor amusement park for adults, but the vast majority of the entertainment (and the profits for the owners) comes from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, keno and baccarat account for the billions of dollars that casinos make every year. While musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate themes help to draw in the crowds, casinos would not exist without games of chance.

Gambling in some form almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found at archaeological sites. However, the casino as a place for people to find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not emerge until the 16th century, with the rise of European gambling crazes and private clubs known as ridotti [Source: Schwartz].

In addition to traditional table and floor games, most casinos also feature a selection of Asian games, including sic bo, fan-tan, and pai gow. Occasionally, other games specific to a region may be found, such as two-up in Australia or banca francesa in Portugal.

Security is a major concern for casinos, with many having a separate department dedicated to monitoring surveillance cameras. Casino employees watch patrons closely for blatant cheating, and pit bosses and managers have a full view of each table game to see if dealers are palming cards or marking dice. In some casinos, chips with built in microcircuitry and electronic systems monitor the exact amount of money wagered minute by minute to detect statistical deviations.