What Is a Casino?

A casino is a place where a wide variety of games of chance are played. It is also a popular entertainment destination that adds food, drinks and stage shows to its gambling offerings. While many casinos offer a wide range of attractions, others focus on a single game or type of gambling. Some have become world-renowned for their exotic locales or architectural designs. Others attract visitors by offering high stakes or celebrity appearances.

Gambling is a popular pastime and has been practiced throughout history. While primitive proto-dice and carved six-sided dice appear in archaeological sites, the casino as an institution did not emerge until the 16th century, when it was popular among Italian aristocrats to hold social events at private gambling houses known as ridotti. [Source: Schwartz]

Although the modern casino is often seen as an adult amusement park, the vast majority of its profits are derived from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette and craps generate billions of dollars in revenue each year. Casinos also rake in billions from the bets of compulsive gamblers, who account for 25 percent of all casino revenues.

In addition to the obvious casino attractions of food and drink, stage shows and spectacular scenery, modern casinos use technology for a variety of purposes. Video cameras keep an eye on patrons, while computers monitor betting patterns and other data. Casinos also employ a host of “chip tracking” devices that interact with electronic systems at each table to verify bets and prevent cheating.