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What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment where a variety of different games of chance are played. It is also a place where entertainment and other non-gambling activities may take place. Some casinos have restaurants, bars, shops and even hotels attached to them. Some are old and quaint, while others are modern glass-and-steel temples of excess.

Something about casinos seems to encourage cheating, theft and scams; perhaps it’s the large amounts of money in play or the opulent lifestyles that often accompany them. As a result, casinos invest heavily in security and have developed sophisticated monitoring systems to spot any suspicious activity. For example, in roulette, electronic sensors monitor the wheel to see if it deviates from its expected results; in blackjack, pit bosses watch players’ betting patterns for indications of crooked dealing; and in poker, a camera system checks to make sure each player’s cards are being dealt fairly.

Although gambling probably predates recorded history – primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice are found in ancient archaeological sites – the modern casino as we know it evolved in Europe during the 16th century. During the gambling craze of that time, European aristocrats would gather for social occasions in small private clubs called ridotti. These were technically illegal, but the Italian Inquisition rarely troubled such clubs. Many of today’s casinos are built on this same model, offering a variety of ways to gamble under one roof. They’re also often attached to top-tier restaurants, hotels and spas.