A casino is a large building or room in which gambling games are played. The modern casino is a huge complex with hotels, restaurants and a multitude of entertainment options, but the vast majority of the profits are still generated by games of chance.
The word casino derives from a Latin word meaning “to try luck.” The first casinos were small, private clubs that allowed members to gamble on various games of chance. Throughout the 19th century, these private gambling establishments became more popular. In the 20th century, the popularity of casinos grew worldwide as more states legalized gambling. During the 1990s, casinos began appearing on American Indian reservations and on riverboats in many states.
There is one certainty in gambling: the house always wins. Every game in a casino has a built in advantage for the house that, when added up over time, will earn the casino a gross profit. This house edge is often much smaller than two percent, but over millions of bets it adds up.
To keep their profits high, casinos employ a variety of techniques to discourage cheating and stealing. In addition to the numerous security guards that patrol the floor, video cameras and computers monitor the games. In a technique called “chip tracking,” betting chips are linked to electronic systems that allow casino staff to oversee the total amounts wagered minute by minute and warn them of any statistical deviation. These technologies are also used to supervise the spinning of roulette and dice wheels, as well as slot machine payouts.