What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that houses a variety of games of chance. It can be found in massive resorts like the Bellagio in Las Vegas, but also in small card rooms and even on barges on waterways. Casinos earn billions of dollars each year for their owners, investors and governments. This money is used for everything from building new gambling facilities to providing jobs and medical care.

Gambling probably predates written history, with primitive dice known as astragali and carved six-sided dice appearing in ancient archaeological sites [Source: Poley]. However, the modern casino concept did not appear until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. At the time, wealthy aristocrats often held private parties called ridotti where they could gamble to their heart’s content in an atmosphere of luxury and refinement [Source: Schwartz].

Today casinos use technology to monitor game play, prevent cheating and spot suspicious patrons. Video cameras positioned throughout the casino capture every face, movement and sound. Computers monitor the action to detect any statistical deviations from expected results, and slot machines are programmed to pay out only winning combinations. Casinos are also able to spot suspicious activity by studying patterns: How dealers deal cards, how players move around the tables and the way they react to events on the screen.

To make sure you’re gambling at a legitimate casino, check its license and customer support options. Top online casinos will have 24/7 live chat and phone support, plus they’ll make their contact information easy to find on their site. If a casino hides this information or makes it hard to find, you should stay away from it.