What Is a Casino?



A casino is a facility for gambling that may include restaurants, bars, shops and even hotels. Some casinos are known as entertainment centers where musicians, theatrical shows and dancers perform. Casinos attract tourists and locals with their glitz, glamour and a chance to win big.

While gambling probably predates recorded history (cut knuckle bones and carved six-sided dice have been found at archaeological sites), the modern casino as an all-in-one entertainment venue didn’t take off until the 16th century during a craze for European-style games like cards and roulette. The word “casino” comes from the Italian ridotti, a small clubhouse for wealthy members where people played card games and other gambling games. Because the aristocrats who ran these private clubs could avoid the Italian Inquisition, they were free to host high-rollers and indulge in gambling for hours on end without worry [Source: Schwartz].

Today’s casinos are often designed as entertainment complexes with other amenities in addition to the traditional gaming floor. Restaurants, hotels, shops and spas are often incorporated, and some have rotating stages that host live entertainment and other special events. Casinos are also often designed with a unique architecture, and many have themed attractions such as sculptures, fountains, or art collections.

Security is a top priority at casinos, and cameras are used for both general security and specific purposes such as monitoring betting patterns to spot cheating and collusion. Some casinos even use electronic systems for games such as roulette and baccarat that have traditionally relied on human dealers; in these games, the electronic system keeps track of the amount wagered minute-by-minute and alerts a dealer to any suspicious activity.