What is a Casino?

Casino is a place where gamblers risk money against a banker, or the house. Its name is probably derived from the Latin word for “house,” though it may also be from the Italian for “little farm.” Originally, gambling was almost entirely a matter of chance: primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice have been found in archaeological sites. But casinos came into their own in the 16th century, when gambling crazes swept Europe. The aristocracy held private parties at places known as ridotti, where they could play a variety of games under one roof.

Modern casinos make large investments in security. A physical force patrols the floor, responding to reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity, while a specialized surveillance department keeps an eye on the gambling action via cameras. In addition, casino technology has improved to the point that some modern casino games are played with computers that supervise the actual results. For example, chips with built-in microcircuitry interact with electronic systems to allow casinos to monitor exactly how much is wagered minute by minute; roulette wheels are electronically monitored to discover any statistical deviations from expected results.

The mafia provided the financial backbone for some of America’s first casinos, especially in Reno and Las Vegas, but federal crackdowns on mob involvement and the threat of losing a gaming license at the slightest whiff of corruption made legitimate businessmen reluctant to get involved in this seamy enterprise. Real estate investors and hotel chains with deep pockets bought out many of the mob’s casinos, bringing them out of the criminal realm.

You Might Also Like