A casino is a place where people gamble and play games of chance. Although musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers help draw in the crowds, casinos would not exist without the billions of dollars that patrons plop down on slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, keno and baccarat each year. These games of chance come with a built-in advantage for the house, which earns casinos enough money to build elaborate hotels and pay for fountains, giant pyramids and towers, replicas of world landmarks and more.
While gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive proto-dice and carved knuckle bones found at archaeological sites, the modern casino evolved in the 16th century as part of a popular gambling craze. Italian aristocrats held private parties at small clubhouses called ridotti, where they could gamble in private and not be bothered by police or religious authorities [Source: Schwartz].
Modern casinos are designed to attract large numbers of patrons with high-end restaurants and top-tier entertainment. They also employ security in the form of cameras aimed at every table, window and doorway, which can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons by security workers in a separate room filled with banks of monitors.
Despite the high-end glamour and big profits, there are many pitfalls to gambling. A casino can become a breeding ground for compulsive gamblers who spend their entire incomes on slot machines and table games. In addition, a casino can damage local property values and hurt the economy of surrounding businesses.