What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment offering games of chance. It may also feature non-gambling entertainment options such as restaurants, bars, hotels and swimming pools. It is not uncommon for casinos to offer live entertainment in the form of music or comedy shows. The term is most often used to refer to an enclosed gaming space, but the definition can extend beyond that to include an entire facility or complex.

Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive proto-dice such as cut knuckle bones and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites. But the idea of a casino as an organized place where patrons could find many different ways to gamble under one roof did not take shape until the 16th century in Venice, when the government authorized the opening of a four-story “ridotto” [source: Schwartz].

Modern casinos can contain a mind-boggling array of games. They typically offer a wide range of table and slot machines, with some having video poker. They can also offer baccarat, blackjack, roulette and craps. Some casinos also feature keno and other dice games.

Something about the atmosphere of a casino seems to encourage cheating and theft, either in collusion with other patrons or independently. That is why most have extensive security measures in place. They are staffed by people trained to spot unusual patterns of behavior, and they can have cameras positioned throughout the premises to keep an eye on all activity.