What Is a Casino?

A casino is a building or room in which gambling games are played. Casinos are often combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops and cruise ships. The term is also used for an establishment that specializes in certain types of gambling, such as a racetrack or a card club.

Gambling in its various forms has been part of human culture for millennia. Evidence of wooden block games dates back to 2300 BC China, and dice show up in Roman and Greek cultures. By the 1400s, a game still played in casinos today — blackjack — had emerged in Europe.

Casinos make money by assuming a statistical advantage over bettors, known as the house edge. This advantage can be small, such as less than two percent, but it adds up over millions of bets. In order to know what kind of profits they can expect, casinos calculate the house edge and variance for each game they offer. This work is done by a group of mathematicians and computer programmers who are sometimes called gaming mathematicians or gaming analysts.

Because of the large amounts of currency handled within a casino, both patrons and employees may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. For this reason, most casinos have strict security measures in place. These security measures include hidden cameras, catwalks over the tables and slots, and a full staff of trained surveillance personnel. In addition to watching for blatant cheating, such as palming or marking cards, these surveillance people observe the routines of each game and note betting patterns that might indicate cheating.