What is a Casino?

A casino is a place where people can gamble. Although gambling probably predates history, and primitive protodice carved from knuckle bones have been found in ancient archaeological sites, the casino as an organized facility where people can find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe [source: Schwartz].

Casinos make money by charging patrons for the use of their facilities and by taking a percentage of the money they handle in games. This percentage is called the house edge or vigorish, and it varies depending on the game. In games with skill, such as blackjack and poker, the casino’s advantage can be less than two percent. In games of chance, the house edge can be much higher.

Patrons may be tempted to cheat and steal, either in collusion or independently; for this reason casinos employ numerous security measures to prevent these activities. The most basic measure is a network of surveillance cameras throughout the facility. The cameras have a wide field of view and can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons by personnel in a room filled with banks of security monitors.

Casinos also reward “good” patrons with free goods and services, such as hotel rooms, meals, tickets to shows, and limo service and airline tickets for frequent flyers. In addition, casinos provide information about the odds of winning or losing a particular game so that patrons can make informed decisions. This information is typically provided by gaming mathematicians and gaming analysts, who are employed by the casino to analyze the odds of a game.