A casino is an entertainment complex with a lot more going on than just gambling. Musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers add to the appeal but casinos wouldn’t survive without games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, baccarat, craps and other games of chance generate the billions in profits casinos rake in every year.

Although gambling almost certainly predates recorded history – primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice have been found at the most ancient archaeological sites – casinos did not develop until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. At that time, gambling was illegal but rich Italian aristocrats would hold private parties in places known as ridotti to satisfy their addiction to the game without running afoul of the Inquisition.

Today’s casinos are much more sophisticated than the ridotti of old, and security is paramount. A wide array of technologies is used to monitor games and to keep the peace. For example, a machine called “chip tracking” monitors betting chips and their movement minute-by-minute; and electronic systems are used to supervise roulette wheels in an attempt to discover any statistical deviation from their expected results.

But despite all the high-tech surveillance, human beings are still a vital part of the casino experience. Dealers, croupiers and other gaming professionals have a deep knowledge of the rules of each game, and they look for telltale signs that someone is cheating or trying to deceive them. They also rely on familiarity with the players’ reactions and movements to spot unusual behavior.