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What Is a Casino?


A casino is a place where people can gamble on various games of chance. It may include slot machines, roulette, blackjack, poker, craps, baccarat and other table and card games. A casino can also have top-notch hotels and spas, restaurants and live entertainment. A casino can be as old and elegant as the Bellagio in Las Vegas or as new and modern as the Casino Lisboa in Lisbon. The etymology of the word suggests that it was first used to refer to villas in Italy, where games of chance were commonly played.

Although gambling probably predates recorded history, the casino as a central gathering place for gaming didn’t develop until the 16th century. In the past, people gathered at private parties in places known as ridotti, where they could gamble on primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones or carved six-sided dice) and other games.

Gambling is the primary source of revenue for casinos. The biggest ones have thousands of slots and hundreds of tables, but there are also smaller, more discreet rooms for high rollers or VIP customers.

Security is a big concern for casinos. Employees keep an eye on patrons to make sure everything goes as it should. For example, casino dealers can easily spot blatant cheating such as palming cards or marking dice. They can also note patterns in betting behavior that might signal that a patron is trying to steal chips or money from others.

Most modern casinos have elaborate surveillance systems. They may have cameras that are mounted throughout the casino and can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons by security workers in a separate room filled with banks of monitors.