Gambling in some form predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found at ancient archaeological sites. However, the casino as a place for patrons to find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not emerge until the 16th century, when European aristocrats gathered in private houses called ridotti to gamble and socialize.
The modern casino offers a wide variety of games, from slots to poker. Some casinos even offer a full range of sports betting and live entertainment. But some critics argue that the casino’s primary value is as a tourist attraction rather than as a source of local economic activity. And some research suggests that compulsive gambling drains community resources, outstripping any casino profits.
A casino’s security department usually consists of a physical force that patrols the gaming floor and a specialized surveillance team that operates the closed-circuit television system. In addition, each gaming table has a pit boss or manager who oversees the game play and keeps a close eye on the players to spot potential cheating or collusion.
In general, casinos try to make sure that every bet placed by a patron is within an established limit. This way, the house always has a mathematical expectation of profit. In order to maximize this profit, casinos typically give big bettors lavish inducements such as free spectacular entertainment, hotel rooms and reduced-fare transportation, as well as complimentary drinks and cigarettes while gambling.