What Is a Casino?

A casino is a place where people can gamble and win money. They usually feature poker, blackjack, roulette and slot machines. They are often combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping and cruise ships. In the United States, about 51 million people—or about one quarter of adults over 21—visited a casino in 2002. This figure doesn’t include the many more who visited casinos abroad.

Casinos are designed to be fun and exciting, but they also make billions of dollars a year from gambling. They would not exist without the millions of visitors who come to play games like poker, roulette, craps and baccarat. Casinos are also a major source of revenue for many cities and towns, which use the taxes they collect to fund public services.

Although gambling probably predates recorded history, the modern casino began in Europe in the 16th century with a craze for hazard-based games. The first casinos were private clubs for the rich, called ridotti. They were usually decorated with bright colors, such as red, to stimulate the senses and make patrons lose track of time.

In the twentieth century, casinos grew larger and more specialized. They aimed to attract high rollers, who made large bets and won big rewards. To do this, they offered special rooms and services for these customers. In addition, they used elaborate surveillance systems to protect them from cheating or theft. These systems allowed security workers to monitor all tables and even change the focus of cameras to watch suspicious patrons.