A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of table games, slot machines, and live entertainment. It also features top-notch hotels, spas, restaurants, and bars.

Gambling likely predates recorded history, with primitive protodice fashioned from cut knuckle bones and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. But the modern casino, as a place where patrons could find many types of gambling under one roof, did not develop until the 16th century, during a gambling craze that swept Europe. Italian aristocrats held private parties at venues called ridotti, where they enjoyed gaming as their primary pastime and did not worry about the church or the inquisition [Source: Schwartz].

Today, casinos operate around the world. They are large, noisy, brightly lit places that sell food, drinks, and cigarettes and offer free beverages and snacks to gamblers. They feature elaborate surveillance systems that use a network of cameras with a high-tech eye in the sky, allowing security personnel to watch the activities of every table, window, and doorway from a room filled with banks of monitors.

Because of the large amounts of money involved, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal. Fortunately, most casinos have rigorous security measures to deter these activities. For example, security cameras are placed throughout the casino floor, and slot machine payouts are controlled by computer chips. In addition, all alcoholic beverages are served by waiters who circulate the gambling areas.