What is a Casino?


Gambling has been a popular pastime since the early days of human history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found in archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. The modern casino, however, did not develop until the 16th century, as a craze for gambling swept Europe. Wealthy Italian aristocrats would host parties at venues known as Ridotti, where they could gamble and socialize without fear of prosecution by the Inquisition [Source: Schwartz].

Casinos are modern, glamorous temples of temptation decked out with opulent furnishings and overflowing bars, but they’re primarily places to throw your chips down on chance games like slot machines, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, keno and poker. While musical shows, shopping centers and hotels draw in the crowds, casinos rely on the simple thrill of chance to rake in billions in profits every year.

In the United States, more than 1,000 casinos operate in 40 states, with Las Vegas and Atlantic City being the most famous. Casinos also exist on American Indian reservations, where they are not subject to state antigambling laws.

Given the large sums of money handled within casinos, patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion with others or independently. To prevent this, most casinos have elaborate security measures in place. For example, cameras that provide a high-tech “eye in the sky” can watch every table and change window at once; electronic systems on the tables monitor betting chips to ensure the correct amounts are wagered minute by minute; and roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly to discover any statistical deviation from an expected outcome.

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