What Is a Casino?

A casino is a place where people can gamble on games of chance or skill. It is also a popular tourist attraction. Casinos often have restaurants, bars, free drinks, stage shows and other entertainment. They may also have electronic gaming machines.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found in the oldest archaeological sites. However, the modern concept of a casino as a place where people can find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century. At that time, a gambling craze swept Europe, and wealthy Italian aristocrats held private parties in places called ridotti (little houses). Though technically illegal, the aristocratic patrons of these venues rarely were bothered by authorities.

The modern casino industry is highly regulated. To ensure the safety of guests, casinos employ a combination of physical and specialized surveillance security. Usually, the two departments work closely together, and the security personnel respond to calls for help and reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity.

Some casino employees are trained to spot blatant cheating, such as palming or marking cards or dice. Others, like table managers and pit bosses, have a broader view of the game, and watch out for betting patterns that indicate collusion or other forms of corruption. In addition to observing the activities of patrons, casino employees may have to calculate payout amounts, or percentages of money returned to players. These calculations are generally performed by computer programs or by mathematically trained professionals known as gaming mathematicians and analysts.