A casino (or gambling house) is a building that houses various games of chance for public entertainment. These include card games, table games, and slot machines. The precise origin of gambling is unknown, but it is believed that it has existed in almost every culture throughout history.
Casinos are typically designed with security in mind. Most have a large physical security force that patrols the premises, as well as a specialized surveillance department. These teams work closely together to prevent crime on the casino floor. Modern casinos also make use of technology for more esoteric security functions, such as “chip tracking,” in which betting chips with built-in microcircuitry enable the casino to monitor the exact amount of money wagered minute by minute; and electronic monitoring of roulette wheels to discover any statistical deviations that might suggest wheel tampering.
The most popular casino games are slot machines, which account for a significant percentage of a casino’s income. In a typical slot machine, a patron inserts cash or paper tickets with barcodes, and the machine displays varying bands of colored shapes on its reels (either actual physical reels or a video representation of them). When the right pattern appears, the player wins a predetermined amount of money.
Most casinos offer a variety of table games, including American and European roulette, blackjack, and craps. Some also feature Far Eastern games such as sic bo, fan-tan, and pai gow. Casinos are also known for their generous comps, which are free goods or services awarded to high-volume players. These may include food, drinks, hotel rooms, and show tickets. Some casinos even provide limo service and airline tickets to their biggest spenders.