A casino, or gambling house, is an establishment that offers a variety of games of chance for money. These games include roulette, card games, dice games and baccarat. A casino may also offer other amenities such as restaurants and entertainment venues. It is a popular tourist attraction and generates much revenue. This revenue is used to maintain and improve the casino’s facilities, pay staff, and fund promotional activities.
Casinos make money by providing patrons with a series of games that have built in odds that guarantee the casino a profit, known as the house edge. This advantage can be very small, often lower than two percent, but it is sufficient to earn casinos millions of dollars in profits annually. The casino’s financial mainstays are table games (such as baccarat, blackjack and craps) and slot machines.
Although gambling probably existed in some form or another long before records were kept, the concept of a casino as a place where people can find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century. At that time, a gambling craze swept Europe and wealthy Italian aristocrats held private parties in their homes called ridotti, where gaming was the primary activity.
Because large amounts of money are handled within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal, in collusion or independently. To prevent this, modern casinos employ several security measures. Besides the usual physical security force, most have a specialized surveillance department that monitors their closed circuit television system. Security personnel also watch patrons closely to spot any suspicious behavior that could indicate a crime is being committed.