What Is a Casino?


A casino, also known as a gambling house or casin, is an establishment for playing various games of chance. Casinos are usually built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships and other tourist attractions. They are also often staffed with security personnel to deter cheating and theft by patrons and workers. Some casinos are also equipped with video surveillance systems to monitor activities.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive forms such as astragali and carved six-sided dice found at archaeological sites. However, the modern casino as an institution was founded in the 16th century during a gambling craze that swept Europe. In its earliest form it was an exclusive club for the wealthy, called ridotti, where they could gamble and socialize without the risk of legal sanction.

While lighted fountains, musical shows and themed hotels may add to the appeal of modern-day casinos, they would not exist without games of chance. Slot machines, roulette, blackjack, craps, keno and poker are just some of the games that provide the billions in profits casinos earn every year.

Casinos must calculate and publish their odds, the probability that a game will yield a certain amount of profit (called expected value). They also take a percentage of the money bet by each player, which is known as the rake. This calculation is performed by mathematicians and computer programmers who specialize in gaming analysis, who are sometimes employed by the casinos. In addition to calculating odds, these specialists must be aware of the specific rules and equipment used for each game. They must also be able to predict when a particular game will become hot or cold, based on the frequency with which the particular game is played.