What Is a Casino?


A casino is a popular place to gamble. While many other elements besides gambling draw people to casinos, such as musical shows and lighted fountains, they wouldn’t exist without games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette and other table games provide the billions of dollars in profits that make casinos profitable enterprises.

Most people who play in casinos are not professional gamblers, and most of them don’t earn enough money to pay for the casino visit. But the gambling industry is still a huge business, and casinos are becoming increasingly common. In 2008, 24% of Americans visited a casino. Most of them were in Las Vegas, but others went to Atlantic City, Chicago and other cities.

The modern casino is a complex facility, and its security measures are constantly evolving. Among other things, video cameras watch the tables and slot machines to spot cheating. Chips have built-in microcircuitry that allows the casino to track the exact amounts wagered minute by minute and alert the patron if something unusual happens; roulette wheels are monitored electronically to discover any statistical deviations from normal operation.

Gambling may have predated the casino as a modern institution, but the idea of an establishment that offers a variety of ways to gamble under one roof developed in the 16th century during a period of gambling mania. Until then, wealthy Europeans who wanted to enjoy the pleasures of gaming had to visit ridotti, or private clubs that were technically illegal but tolerated by the authorities.