What Is a Casino?


A casino is a facility for certain types of gambling. Some casinos also offer dining, shopping, and entertainment. They may be standalone buildings or be part of larger complexes. They often offer special privileges to high-rollers, such as free rooms and meals. The word casino is derived from the Italian word casona, meaning “house of games.” Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found in some of the oldest archaeological sites. But the casino as a place to find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century, when Italian aristocrats began holding private parties at venues called ridotti [Source: Schwartz].

Modern casinos employ a wide range of security measures. Cameras and computer systems watch every table, window, and doorway; employees on the floor check for cheating by observing patron behavior, and the pit bosses and managers at each game look for betting patterns that might suggest cheating. Elaborate surveillance systems allow a single security worker to monitor the entire casino at once, and cameras can be adjusted to focus on specific suspicious patrons by workers in a room filled with banks of security monitors.

The choice of which games to play in a casino depends on the player’s preferences and skill level. In general, those who are new to gambling should start with slot machines, which require little more than a quick decision and a push of a button; while old-timers might want to try poker, blackjack, roulette, or baccarat, which have a greater degree of complexity.