A casino is a gambling establishment where customers gamble money or other items of value on games of chance. Games include card and table games, like blackjack, craps and roulette. They may also include video poker and slot machines. The precise origin of gambling is unknown, but it is believed to have been around for thousands of years in one form or another.
Modern casinos often feature elaborate themes and amenities that attract upscale clientele, such as restaurants, shopping, entertainment and hotel rooms. However, the vast majority of a casino’s profits come from gambling. Slots, poker, blackjack, baccarat and other games of chance are the source of billions in profits for US casinos every year.
In modern casinos, security is typically divided between a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department that operates the casino’s closed circuit television system, or “eye in the sky.” In addition to monitoring customers for suspicious or definite criminal activity, the surveillance staff is usually trained to observe subtle behavior that can indicate cheating or other forms of fraud.
Although gambling has been a part of human culture since the dawn of recorded history, the casino as a place for a variety of gambling activities under one roof did not develop until the 16th century in Europe. At that time, Italian aristocrats held private parties at places called ridotti, where they could gamble in a social environment without being bothered by legal authorities.