A casino is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. While there are plenty of other luxuries that help draw in players – restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery – casinos would not exist without the games of chance themselves. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno are all standard casino offerings. Some casinos also have a variety of Asian-style games like sic bo, fan-tan and pai-gow.
Gambling in some form has been around since the earliest societies started keeping records, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found at the most ancient archaeological sites. But the modern casino didn’t develop until the 16th century, when gambling crazes swept Europe and Italian aristocrats created private clubs called ridotti where they could gamble away their inheritance.
Casinos are heavily policed, with security workers keeping an eye on each game for blatant cheating. Dealers are especially vigilant, keeping an eye out for anything that looks suspicious. Each table is supervised by a pit boss or manager, while higher-ups watch over the entire floor from a room filled with banks of security monitors.
Casinos also pay attention to the statistics behind each of their games, with mathematicians and computer programmers creating algorithms that help them spot deviations from expected behavior. These are known as “house edges” and variance, and are the key to understanding how a casino makes money. But despite their high-tech ‘eye-in-the-sky’ surveillance systems, casinos can still be vulnerable to people who want to cheat. In fact, studies suggest that compulsive gamblers generate a large enough share of a casino’s profits to offset any positive economic impact they might have on a community.