What is a Casino?

Casino is any place where gambling is legal and where people can find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof. Although gambling certainly predates recorded history, it seems that the modern concept of a casino – a central place to house a large variety of different gambling activities – did not emerge until the 16th century. In that era, a craze for gambling was sweeping Europe and Italian nobles frequently gathered in places called ridotti (private clubs) to gamble and socialize.

Most games of chance give the casino a mathematical advantage, which is sometimes referred to as the house edge. The house’s edge is most noticeable in games of pure chance such as baccarat, roulette and blackjack, but even skill-based games like poker earn the house money through commissions or rakes. Casinos also make money by letting patrons drink and smoke while gambling.

Many casinos have a large number of security measures. These usually begin on the casino floor, where employees constantly monitor games and patrons. Observers watch for blatant cheating, such as palming or marking cards, and note the betting patterns of patrons to spot suspicious trends. Casinos also employ cameras to keep an eye on the entire premises, and pit bosses and table managers oversee each game with a broader perspective.

In the past, many casinos were run by organized crime mobs. Mobster cash flowed into Reno and Las Vegas, but mob involvement tarnished the reputation of the gambling industry. Legitimate businessmen with deeper pockets bought out the mobsters, and the threat of losing a casino’s license at the slightest hint of mob involvement has kept organized crime out of legitimate casinos.