A casino is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. Customers gamble by betting money or other items of value against the house, in games where the result is determined by chance rather than by skill (such as craps, roulette and baccarat). The advantage that the casino has over players is called the house edge. Casinos offer a variety of services to attract and retain customers, including food and drinks, entertainment and gambling opportunities.
While gambling probably predates recorded history – primitive protodice, cut knuckle bones and carved six-sided dice have been found at ancient archaeological sites – the modern casino as a place where patrons could find all sorts of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian noblemen held private parties in places called ridotti [Source: Schwartz].
Today casinos can be quite elaborate. For instance, many casinos use sophisticated surveillance systems to protect against cheating and other crimes. Casinos monitor their game tables minute-by-minute, and each shuffle, deal and card placement is scrutinized for any deviation from the expected results. Similarly, roulette wheels are monitored electronically to discover any statistical irregularities; and slot machines are controlled by computers that ensure payouts are made randomly.
In addition, casinos may employ a number of psychological tricks to encourage gamblers to stay longer and spend more. Windows are rarely visible, and clocks do not chime, to prevent patrons from realizing how long they have been playing.