A casino (or gambling house) is an establishment where people can play games of chance. Modern casinos offer a wide variety of games and are often combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping and/or entertainment venues. Casinos are most often associated with high-level gambling and a large amount of money being wagered, but they can also serve as recreation centers for the local community.
Gambling probably existed as early as recorded history, with primitive protodice, or cut knuckle bones, and carved six-sided dice found in some of the world’s oldest archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. However, the modern casino as we know it didn’t develop until the 16th century, during a period of intense European gambling crazes. Today’s modern casino is more like an indoor amusement park for adults, with the majority of its attractions – and profits – coming from games of chance.
The games themselves vary, but most casinos feature the usual suspects: blackjack, roulette, craps, keno and slot machines. Many offer a wider selection of games from Asia, including sic bo and fan-tan. Some have a focus on regional games, such as two-up in Australia, banca francesa in Portugal and baccarat in France.
Most casinos have elaborate security systems, including catwalks in the ceiling that allow surveillance personnel to look directly down on patrons at tables and slots through one-way mirrors. In addition, most casinos have “comp” programs that reward loyal patrons with free or discounted food, drinks, hotel rooms and shows, as well as limo service and airline tickets for big bettors.