A casino is a place where people can gamble through games of chance. It’s sometimes called a gambling hall or gaming house, and it usually offers table games like roulette and blackjack, as well as slot machines. Most casinos have rules about how to play, and most of them are regulated by law.
In the United States, 51 million people—a quarter of all Americans over age 21—visited a casino in 2002. This was a slight increase over the year before, but there are still fewer casinos than before, and most of those are smaller.
Although gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in archeological sites, the modern casino didn’t develop until the 16th century, when a craze for gambling spread to Europe. Wealthy Italian aristocrats often held private parties in places called ridotti, where they could enjoy themselves and gamble without fear of being caught.
Security in a casino is typically divided between a physical force and a specialized department, which manages the closed circuit television system known as the “eye-in-the-sky.” Computerized systems are used to track betting chips, monitor roulette wheels minute by minute, and discover statistical deviations from expected results. These systems can also be set up to monitor the behavior of individual players, who may have been given free food or hotel rooms for frequent play. In the modern era of high-end resort casinos, designers have come up with new games to attract new customers. Some of these have a slight skill element, but most are pure luck.