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What is a Casino?

A Casino is a gambling establishment offering games of chance and, in some cases, skill. The games are played with chips that represent money, and the house always has a built in advantage. This advantage, often called the house edge, can be very small, but over time it earns the casino millions in profits. In some games, such as poker where players play against each other, the house also takes a commission known as the rake. Some casinos offer complimentary items to players, or comps, as a way of increasing their profits.

The history of casinos is closely tied to the history of gambling itself. While gamblers may have been playing since primitive times, with carved knuckle bones and simple protodice, the first organized casinos emerged in Europe in the 16th century. A gambing craze swept the continent at this time, and Italian aristocrats would hold private parties in places known as Ridotto, where they could enjoy their favorite games with friends. Because these venues were not public, they avoided legal repercussions.

Modern casinos have elaborate security systems to prevent cheating, theft and other crimes. Elaborate cameras watch every table, window and doorway, and can be adjusted by workers in a separate room filled with banks of security monitors. In addition to cameras, security personnel look for patterns in the actions of patrons. They pay attention to how the dealers deal cards, how the players react and where they place their bets, and they look for anything that deviates from the norm.