A casino is a place where gambling activities are carried out. Casinos typically offer a wide variety of games to their patrons and often have a host of other attractions that attract people to the venue, such as restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery. Although gambling probably predates recorded history, casinos as places for patrons to find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not appear until the 16th century during a gambling craze in Europe. Before then, aristocrats used to meet in secret to play a variety of card and dice games in locations known as ridotti.
A modern casino employs a wide variety of security measures. Many tables and slot machines are monitored by cameras that give surveillance personnel a “eye in the sky” view of what is happening on the floor. The camera images are constantly transmitted to a monitoring room where they can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons. The electronic monitoring also allows the casino to track patterns of behavior that may indicate cheating, such as a player palming cards or switching dice.
Casinos make money by giving away complimentary items and by taking a percentage of bets, known as the house edge. The casino advantage is relatively small – less than two percent – but it adds up over millions of bets. The house edge explains why casinos can afford expensive hotels, fountains, giant pyramids and towers, replicas of famous landmarks, and other extravagant decorations.