A casino, also known as a gambling house or a gaming room, is an establishment where people can engage in casino games such as blackjack, roulette, and slot machines. Many casinos also offer a variety of other entertainment options like bars, restaurants, hotels, and live entertainment.
Gambling almost certainly predates written history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice among the earliest archaeological finds. However, the casino as a place where people could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not appear until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian aristocrats would hold private parties in places called ridotti.
Modern casinos are largely automated and use sophisticated technology to monitor game play. For example, “chip tracking” allows casino employees to see minute-by-minute betting activity; roulette wheels are electronically monitored to discover any statistical deviation from their expected results; and the payouts on video poker and slot machines are determined by computer chips inside each machine. In addition to these technological advances, most casinos have a number of other security measures in place to deter cheating and shady behavior.
Casinos are designed to be visually appealing and entertaining, offering free drinks, stage shows, and even rooms for big-spenders (known as comps). Many casinos offer discounts on food and drinks to all patrons. They also employ an array of security measures, including trained sniffer dogs and catwalks in the ceiling that allow surveillance personnel to look down on table games, poker tables, and slots through one-way glass.