A casino is a facility for certain types of gambling. It is often built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, cruise ships, and retail shopping. Some casinos are known for live entertainment, and some feature themed architecture and interior design. The word is derived from the Latin cazino, meaning “gambling house”. Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice such as cut knuckle bones or carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites. The modern casino, however, developed in the 16th century during a gambling craze that swept Europe. Italian nobles gathered in private clubs, called ridotti, to gamble and socialize; these were the ancestors of today’s casinos.
The gambling aspect of a casino is the core of its business. Although there is some element of skill in games such as poker, the majority of casino gambling involves chance. The vast majority of all bets placed in a casino are made on games of pure chance, such as roulette and baccarat.
The sexy, flamboyant image of casino gambling appeals to many people. High rollers, who bet tens of thousands of dollars on a single spin of the roulette wheel, are given special rooms and lavish inducements such as free spectacular entertainment and limousine transportation. Casinos rely on these big bettors to generate much of their gross profit. Even lesser bettors are offered reduced-fare transportation, luxury hotel rooms and free drinks and cigarettes while gambling. Casinos also use sophisticated surveillance systems to monitor patron activity.