What Is a Casino?

A casino is a facility for certain types of gambling. Modern casinos are designed much like indoor amusement parks, but the vast majority of entertainment is provided by gambling (slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, keno and more). The facilities often include restaurants, bars, hotels and other forms of lodging, and offer entertainment shows. They may also feature retail shops and live music. The games of chance offered in a casino are usually controlled by a central authority or a government agency to ensure that the odds of winning are not tipped against the player.

Gambling almost certainly existed before recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites. However, the idea of a central venue where gamblers could find a variety of ways to risk their money under one roof didn’t take hold until the 16th century, when Italian aristocrats held private gambling parties in venues known as ridotti. [source: Schwartz]

In the modern era, casinos have adopted more sophisticated technological measures to monitor games and supervise wagering. For example, many slot machines now have built-in microcircuitry to monitor player activity and warn the casino if any suspicious patterns appear; electronic systems in blackjack tables enable the casinos to oversee bets minute by minute; and roulette wheels are regularly monitored to discover any statistical deviations. Despite the increased technology, some players have been able to find ways to beat the house. But, to do so requires patience and a high tolerance for loss as well as skill.