A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of games for players to bet with. It may also be called a gambling hall or a gaming room. In the United States, casinos are most often found in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. They have also begun to appear on American Indian reservations and in other jurisdictions where gambling is legal.
While musical shows, lighted fountains and lavish hotels help draw the crowds to casinos, they would not exist without games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette and other gambling games generate billions in profits every year for casinos.
Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice appearing in the earliest archaeological sites. But the casino as a central location for a variety of gambling activities did not emerge until the 16th century during a gambling craze that swept Europe. Italian aristocrats hosted private parties at places called ridotti, where they could enjoy their favorite games with friends while being discreet about the fact that the activities were technically illegal.
Something about the casino atmosphere encourages people to cheat and steal, either in collusion or individually. This is why casinos spend a great deal of time and money on security measures. Casinos have cameras that monitor the activity on the floor and can be adjusted to focus on particular suspicious patrons; table managers and pit bosses constantly watch over the game tables for signs of cheating; and, in the case of slot machines, computer chips track wagering patterns minute by minute to detect any deviation from the expected outcomes.