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What Is a Casino?


A casino, also known as a gambling house or a gaming hall, is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Modern casinos are often combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops, and other tourist attractions. Many countries have regulated casino gambling. Some have banned it altogether, while others have enacted strict licensing and regulatory measures. Still others have legalized it to some extent, permitting private citizens to gamble in specially designed facilities, known as “casino.”

Gambling almost certainly predates written history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice among the oldest archaeological finds. But the casino as a place where patrons can find a variety of games under one roof did not emerge until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian nobles began to hold private parties at clubs called ridotti [Source: Schwartz].

Today’s casinos are extremely sophisticated. Their security begins on the floor, where employees keep a close eye on players and their bets to spot blatant cheating such as palming or marking cards. Slot machines are wired to a central computer, which records statistical deviations that signal problems.

Other security features include cameras and other technological measures. Casinos also enforce security through rules of conduct and behavior. For example, players at card games must keep their cards visible at all times to the dealer, and those who shout out encouragement or make obscene gestures are subject to expulsion. In addition, comps—free goods and services such as hotel rooms, dinners, show tickets, and limo service to and from the airport—are given to players who spend large amounts of money.