What Is a Casino?


A casino is a facility for certain types of gambling. While musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers help lure visitors, casinos would not exist without games of chance. Slot machines, black jack, roulette, craps, keno and more provide the billions in profits that casinos rake in every year.

While casino gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice among the earliest archaeological finds, the modern concept of a single building where a wide variety of different gambling activities could be found under one roof did not emerge until the 16th century, when a betting craze swept Europe and wealthy Italian aristocrats would hold private parties in gambling clubs called ridotti. These grew so popular that they were eventually tolerated by the church and often operated outside of state antigambling laws.

Modern casino resorts are often massive, with a host of other attractions in addition to the gaming floor. Some feature hotels, restaurants, nongambling game rooms and even water parks. Others, such as the Sun City Resort in Rustenburg, South Africa, are nearly as large as a small town and include an impressive array of casino gambling games.

Because they deal in large amounts of money, casinos must be vigilant against cheating and theft. Casinos are staffed by security guards and have specialized surveillance departments that monitor everything that goes on inside the doors. Some have catwalks above the gaming floors that allow surveillance personnel to look down, through one way glass, at all table and slot activity.