A casino is a gambling establishment where patrons gamble through games of chance and in some cases skill. A casino can also provide food and drinks, entertainment, and other services to its customers. Some casinos have security measures, including cameras, to prevent cheating or theft. Some also have catwalks, where surveillance personnel can look directly down on tables and slot machines from above.
Although the modern casino is much more than a place to gamble, gambling provides the bulk of its revenue. The most common games include slot machines, blackjack, roulette, baccarat, and craps. The profits from these games contribute to the billions of dollars raked in by American casinos each year.
Gambling predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in archaeological sites. However, the first true casino emerged in the 16th century as a result of a gambling craze. Venetian nobles held private parties in facilities called ridotti, where they could play a variety of gambling games. While technically illegal, these parties were rarely bothered by authorities.
The modern casino is a complex business that has evolved over time. In addition to the traditional games, modern casinos offer electronic versions of table and wheel games. These games have built-in microcircuitry that interacts with betting chips and enables casinos to monitor the amount wagered minute by minute; they also allow them to discover any statistical deviations from their expected results quickly. Casinos also offer rewards programs to attract high-spenders. These perks may include free meals, hotel rooms, tickets to shows, and airline tickets. In many casinos, players use chips instead of cash to avoid drawing attention to themselves by revealing large amounts of money.