A casino, or gaming establishment, is a place where patrons can gamble on various games of chance. These places of entertainment, which are regulated by law in some countries, have existed for centuries. While gambling predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved knuckle bones, the modern casino as an institution did not emerge until the 16th century with the rise of a gambling craze in Europe. The word casino itself probably comes from the Italian ridotto, which was a small clubhouse for Italian nobles where they could gather and socialize, and where gambling took place as well [Source: Schwartz].

Most casino games have mathematically determined odds that ensure the house an overall positive expected value, or more precisely, a negative net expected value (from the player’s perspective). The house advantage is referred to as the house edge. To counter this, casinos offer incentives to gamblers, often called comps, such as free drinks and food while gambling, hotel rooms, discounted or free limo service and tickets to shows. The amount of money that a patron spends while at the casino is used to determine his or her level of comps.

Because large amounts of money are handled in casinos, security is a major issue. Most casinos have a combination of physical and specialized surveillance departments that monitor the premises constantly, using cameras and other technology to deter crime. The security forces are trained to recognize signs of cheating and stealing, whether carried out by players or by casino staff.