What is a Casino?

A Casino is a place where gambling takes place, and it is often considered a glamorous entertainment venue. Casinos generally provide games of chance, and may offer additional services such as restaurants, free drinks or stage shows. Some casinos specialize in particular types of gaming, such as baccarat, keno or poker. Some are themed to specific locations, such as Las Vegas and Macau.

While gambling probably predates recorded history, the modern casino is a fairly recent invention. It is thought to have developed in the 16th century, as a result of a European gambling craze. At that time, Italian aristocrats would hold parties in private gambling clubs known as ridotti, and although they were technically illegal, the aristocracy rarely had any problems with the authorities [Source: Schwartz]. As the casino concept spread, organized crime figures took notice and began funding them with their own money. They took sole or partial ownership of the establishments and even influenced outcomes of some games through their influence on casino personnel.

Most modern casinos are large, elaborate facilities that house a variety of gambling activities. They are designed to resemble an indoor amusement park, with games of chance taking up the majority of floor space. They feature high-tech surveillance systems, and employ a number of people to keep an eye on the patrons. Security workers on the floor watch over table games, looking for blatant cheating such as palming and marking cards and dice. Pit bosses and table managers have a broader view, watching for betting patterns that might indicate cheating by players or collusion between dealers.