What is a Casino?

The word casino has many meanings, but it basically refers to a place where gambling takes place. While gambling has probably been around for as long as humans have, the modern casino offers luxuries and entertainment to attract visitors. It may also have an elaborate architectural design. The precise origin of the casino is unknown, but it developed from earlier public places where games of chance took place, such as taverns and saloons. A more formalized version of this type of venue arose in the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian nobles held private parties called ridotti to play games of chance and enjoy other entertainment based on luck.

Although some games of chance include an element of skill, most have mathematically determined odds that give the house a permanent edge over players. These odds are expressed as the expected value, or EV, of the game. Casino games such as blackjack, poker and video poker have a EV that is negative (for the player). Other casino games such as sic bo and fan-tan, which are popular in Asia, have a EV that is slightly positive.

Casinos are a major source of income for local governments, and they contribute to property values in surrounding neighborhoods. However, something about gambling encourages people to cheat, steal and scam their way into a jackpot, and casinos spend a lot of time, effort and money on security. They employ high-tech surveillance systems with cameras that monitor every table, window and doorway, and can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons. They also use bright and sometimes gaudy floor and wall coverings, especially red, to stimulate and cheer visitors.