A casino is a building where people can gamble on various games of chance. It may also offer other entertainment such as stage shows and restaurants. The gaming industry generates billions of dollars in revenue each year for its owners, investors, and operators. Casinos may be built in large resort hotels, on cruise ships, at racetracks, or in small card rooms. In the United States, casinos are licensed and regulated by state governments.
Although gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites, the casino as a place for a variety of different gambling activities under one roof did not develop until the 16th century. This was during a period of popular enthusiasm for gaming, which prompted Italian aristocrats to open private clubs known as ridotti. Although technically illegal, these private parties were rarely bothered by legal authorities, as they could simply deny any connection to gambling and continue their festivities [Source: Schwartz].
Modern casinos employ elaborate security systems to prevent cheating, stealing or scamming. These include high-tech “eyes-in-the-sky” systems that monitor everything that happens on the casino floor, including changing window and door configurations. Many of these cameras are synchronized so that security personnel can watch all areas of the casino simultaneously, and focus on suspicious patrons. More subtle surveillance methods involve observing the habits of casino players and noting any deviations from expected behavior. These observations can be used to detect a wide range of criminal activity, from the subtle (card counting in blackjack) to the obvious (loud cheering during a game of craps). The observant player can learn to spot patterns and make adjustments accordingly.