A casino (also known as a gambling house or a gaming establishment) is an establishment where people can engage in gambling activities. Casinos offer a variety of games to their customers, including blackjack, roulette, poker, and craps. Most casinos also have restaurants, shows, and other entertainment attractions. The casino industry is regulated by government authorities to ensure fair play. Casinos also promote responsible gambling, and many offer programs to help problem gamblers control their spending. Some casinos also give out complimentary items or services to players, called comps. The most common comps are free meals or hotel rooms, but some casinos award limo service and airline tickets to high rollers.
Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found at ancient archaeological sites. The modern casino, however, did not appear until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. In Italy, wealthy noblemen gathered in private gambling clubs known as ridotti to enjoy their favorite pastime. The term casino is probably derived from the Italian word for “room” or “gallery.”
Something about the nature of gambling seems to encourage patrons and staff members to cheat and steal, either in collusion or independently. To counter this, casinos spend a great deal of money on security. Elaborate surveillance systems allow casino personnel to watch the entire floor through cameras in the ceiling, adjusting them to focus on suspicious patrons. Moreover, the routines of certain games and the expected reactions of players follow specific patterns, making it easier for security personnel to spot unusual behavior.