A casino is a gambling establishment where a variety of games of chance can be played. It offers luxuries such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows to attract customers. The casino also has a built-in statistical advantage, called the house edge, which earns it money over players. This advantage is calculated as a percentage of the total amount bet on a game, and can vary from game to game.
Gambling has almost certainly existed since the dawn of history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. But the modern casino as we know it didn’t appear until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Wealthy Italian nobles gathered at private clubs called ridotti to gamble and socialize, even though the activity was technically illegal [Source: Schwartz].
The modern casino relies heavily on security measures to prevent cheating and stealing by patrons and staff alike. Cameras and other electronic monitoring systems are common. Employees are trained to spot blatant cheating such as palming, marking or switching cards and dice. Each table game has a pit boss or manager who oversees its operation, and is responsible for keeping track of the amount of money being wagered by the tables’ patrons.
In addition to security, casinos must contend with compulsive gambling. Studies show that addicted gamblers generate a large percentage of a casino’s profits, and they drain local resources through a shift in spending away from other forms of entertainment.