What Is a Casino?

A casino is a place where gambling takes place. The games offered include casino table games such as poker, blackjack, roulette, and craps, as well as slot machines and video lottery terminals. Many casinos also offer other entertainment such as shows and dining. In the United States, about 51 million people visited casinos in 2002. This figure does not include the people who gambled at home or elsewhere.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in some ancient archaeological sites. But the casino as a place where patrons can find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats gathered in private clubs called ridotti, where they played card games and other small games of chance. Unlike public gaming houses, these ridotti were not bothered by the police.

Casinos make money by charging a small fee to each player who plays a game. This fee, known as the vig or rake, can be less than two percent of each bet. Casinos use this income to pay for things such as hotel rooms, fountains, and replicas of famous landmarks.

Because of the large amounts of money that are handled within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. To counter these tendencies, casinos have a wide range of security measures. These may include cameras, and the reassurance of the presence of trained security personnel.