What Is a Casino?

A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. It may contain one or more gambling floors, and it may also include a hotel, restaurants, retail shopping, a convention center and/or other tourist attractions. Some casinos are incorporated as independent businesses while others operate in association with hotels, resorts, or cruise ships. Some casinos specialize in particular games, such as poker, baccarat, blackjack, bingo, or other card games, and some are known for their large jackpots.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive proto-dice (cut knuckle bones) and even carved six-sided dice appearing at some archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. But the casino as an organized place for gambling did not appear until the 16th century in Italy, where wealthy socialites held private parties at gambling houses called ridottos.

Something about the presence of large amounts of money in a concentrated area seems to encourage people to cheat, steal or scam, either in collusion with each other or on their own. In response, many casinos employ elaborate security measures. These might include cameras mounted in the ceiling that can be directed to watch every table, window and doorway, manned by security personnel who can adjust the focus as needed.

Casinos also reward their best patrons with “comps,” or free goods and services. For example, big bettors might receive free spectacular entertainment, reduced-fare transportation or even limo service and airline tickets. Comps are generally based on the amount of time and money a player spends at the casino.