What Is a Casino?

A casino, also known as a gambling house or a casino (in Italian: cassino), is a facility for certain types of gambling. Casinos are often combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops, and cruise ships. In some countries, casinos are regulated by law and can only be operated by licensed operators.

Gambling has been a part of human culture for millennia. Archeological evidence of dice-based games dates back to 2300 BC, while gambling tables first appeared in Rome around 500 AD. Cards came to prominence in the 1400s, followed by baccarat and blackjack in the 1600s.

Most modern casinos employ two distinct departments for security: a physical force, which patrols the casino and responds to reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity; and a specialized surveillance department that operates closed circuit television systems and electronic devices in the gaming areas, called vigorish, that detect and report any statistical deviations from expected values. Casinos also use a variety of sophisticated technology to monitor their games, such as “chip tracking,” which uses microcircuitry in betting chips that enable the house to oversee and record minute-by-minute wagers; and roulette wheels are electronically monitored and maintained regularly for any anomalies in their statistical expected results.

Large casinos are frequently built in exotic locales and serve as tourist attractions. Some are designed to be reminiscent of European or Asian palaces, and include theme parks with replicas of famous buildings. Others are intended to be the biggest in their region or even the world, with massive buffets and hotel rooms that rival the size of many cities.