A casino is a public place that houses games of chance and gambling. It might also offer restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery, but the billions in profits raked in every year by casinos come from gambling alone. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps provide the entertainment that draws in customers and provides the basis for the opulent hotels and fountains that characterize modern casino design.
While gambling in some form probably predates recorded history, the casino as a place where people could find a variety of gambling activities under one roof did not develop until the 16th century. This coincided with a gambling craze that saw Italian aristocrats meet in private venues called ridotti to gamble, drink and socialize. Although technically illegal, the casinos were rarely bothered by the authorities.
Modern casinos are heavily guarded and security is a key priority. They use cameras that provide a high-tech eye-in-the-sky view of the entire gaming floor. The cameras can be adjusted to focus on specific patrons or areas by security workers in a separate room filled with banks of monitors.
In addition to the cameras, a typical casino employs an army of security personnel. Windows are almost always closed and clocks are not displayed, so patrons can easily lose track of time. Free complimentary beverages are offered to keep customers gambling for longer periods of time, and casinos are able to do this because they know how much money their players will spend in the long run.