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What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment that offers the chance to win money by playing games of chance or skill. It also provides drinks, food and entertainment. The casino industry is regulated by law. Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites [source: Schwartz]. Casinos began to appear after World War II, and some states legalized them during the 1980s. They also appeared on American Indian reservations, which are exempt from state antigambling statutes.

Modern casinos typically have two security departments: a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department that operates closed circuit television (CCTV) systems. The CCTV systems provide an “eye-in-the-sky” that allows casino employees to monitor the entire gaming floor from a central control room. Security personnel watch patrons and games, observing the expected routines and patterns. This makes it easy to spot anything out of the ordinary.

To keep gamblers happy, casinos often offer free food and drink. This can make them intoxicated, which reduces their awareness of the passage of time and their ability to judge their bankrolls. In addition, they use chips instead of cash to prevent cheating and to facilitate tracking the amounts that players lose or win. This enables them to give players comps, or free goods and services, such as hotel rooms, meals, tickets to shows or even airline tickets. Comps can reduce the house edge and boost profits.