What Is a Casino?

A casino is a place where people can play gambling games, and in many cases enjoy other amenities like restaurants, hotels, spas and live entertainment. While some casinos add extra luxuries such as theaters, fountains and dramatic scenery to draw in customers, most offer similar gaming options and are based on a built in statistical advantage for the house (or “vig”).

The word casino is believed to be derived from the Italian phrase casa dei giochi (“house of games”). Gambling probably predates recorded history with primitive protodice, cut knuckle bones and carved six-sided dice found at many archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. However, the idea of a casino as a place where a variety of gambling activities are available under one roof did not emerge until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. This led to the development of small private clubs called ridotti for wealthy gamblers [Source: Schwartz].

Casinos have also evolved from their original locations in luxury hotels and resorts into more modern facilities that cater to high rollers. They may offer free hotel rooms, dinners and tickets to shows for the biggest spenders, known as comps. The perks are intended to encourage big spenders and to reward loyalty.

The vig and other casino advantages make casinos profitable, even if they lose money on some bets. Despite this, some casino patrons are tempted to cheat and steal, either in collusion or independently. As a result, most casinos have extensive security measures.