What Is a Casino?

A casino is a place where gambling games are played. While some casinos focus on a wide range of gambling activities, others specialize in certain games. Some, such as the Bellagio in Las Vegas, combine gambling with luxurious accommodations and high-end dining, making them a favorite among upscale gamblers.

While the exact origin of gambling is unknown, there is evidence of it in most societies. Some of the earliest evidence comes from ancient Mesopotamia, where primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice have been found. Gambling as a form of entertainment probably began with this prehistoric activity, and the casino as we know it today probably developed in the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats, who often held private parties called ridotti where they could gamble, may have inspired the modern casino [source: Schwartz].

The basic operations of a casino are to collect money and distribute it according to some rules. Some casinos also offer complimentary goods or services to players, called comps. These are based on the amount of time and money spent playing. Some casinos give these out for free, while others require a minimum amount of play to qualify.

Because so much money changes hands within a casino, security is important. Casinos use a variety of security measures, such as cameras and other surveillance equipment, to prevent cheating and theft by patrons and staff. In addition, the patterns and routines of casino games usually have clear rules that make it easy for security personnel to spot when someone is doing something out of the ordinary.