What is a Casino?


A casino is a place where people can play a variety of games of chance. The games may be luck-based, such as dice and cards, or skill-based, such as poker. In some cases the players compete against one another, but in most cases they are playing against the house. The house has a built in mathematical advantage that is guaranteed to make it money over time. This advantage is called the house edge. Casinos collect the edge from each patron through a commission called the vig or rake. The casino also offers perks to encourage gamblers, such as free food and drink.

Gambling has been around since ancient times, with primitive prototype dice known as astragali and carved knuckle bones found at archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. The modern casino, however, did not appear until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats would gather at private clubs called ridotti to gamble, drink and socialize. Though technically illegal, the ridotti were never bothered by authorities.

Casinos have some very specific goals when it comes to attracting and keeping patrons. The interior design tries to create an upscale atmosphere, with lavish carpets and richly tiled hallways that are dimmed to make the patrons feel that they are in a special place. The music is electronically tuned to a particular musical key that is pleasing to the ears. The sound of coins clanging in a slot machine and bells tolling are also designed to attract attention. More than 15,000 miles (24,100 km) of neon tubing are used to light the casinos on the Las Vegas strip.