A casino is a place where people gamble on various games of chance. Though a wide variety of attractions (restaurants, lighted fountains, shopping centers, lavish hotels and elaborate themes) may lure people in, the only thing that truly makes casinos profitable is gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, keno and poker are the games that provide billions in profits for casino owners each year.
Gambling has been around for as long as there have been humans, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in the oldest archaeological sites. However, the modern casino as a place where people could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century. This coincided with a gambling craze that swept Europe, and Italian nobles often held social gatherings in venues called ridotti [Source: Schwartz].
Casinos can be dangerous places. Because large amounts of money are handled and deposited in them, both patrons and employees may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. As a result, casinos spend considerable time, effort and money on security measures. Elaborate surveillance systems, for example, allow security workers to watch every table, window and doorway of the building through banks of cameras that can be shifted and focused at will.
Some of the more discerning players will receive free room, meals and even airline tickets and limousine service from casino owners in appreciation for their play. In addition, most casinos have gaming tables that are reserved exclusively for high rollers, so they can enjoy private sessions with a small group of other people.