A casino is a gambling establishment. The modern casino, which includes slot machines, table games such as blackjack and roulette, keno and craps, draws in millions of visitors annually for a variety of reasons. While musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and hotels help to draw customers, the billions of dollars in profits raked in by casinos every year are derived from gambling.
While some gambling activity likely predates recorded history, astragali (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice are among the oldest gaming implements discovered in archeological sites, the casino as a place to find all sorts of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century during a frenzied gambling craze that saw European nobles gather for private parties called ridotti to indulge their addictions [Source: Schwartz]. While casinos can offer plenty of temptation to gamblers, they can also bring in huge amounts of money to local economies. Critics argue that the revenue generated by casino gambling shifts spending from other forms of entertainment in a community; it also brings in problems such as compulsive gambling, which can have negative effects on a city’s economy.
Casinos are not immune to crime and corruption, with both patrons and employees sometimes tempted to cheat or steal. To prevent this, casinos have elaborate surveillance systems. Often, these include cameras in the ceiling that watch every table, window and doorway. Some have computerized eye-in-the-sky systems that monitor the entire casino from a central control room, and can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons by security workers.