A casino (or gambling house) is a place where people can gamble on various games of chance. Many casinos add other entertainment facilities such as restaurants, bars, shops and nightclubs. Some casinos specialize in certain types of gambling activities, such as roulette, blackjack and poker. Casinos are often built near or combined with hotels, resorts, cruise ships and other tourist attractions.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites. But the modern casino – with its luxurious amenities, variety of games and dramatic scenery – only emerged in the 16th century as a result of a gambling craze in Europe. Earlier, Italian aristocrats would host private gambling parties at venues known as ridotti. [Source: Schwartz]

Casinos try to make gambling as pleasant as possible for their patrons, so they offer free food and drinks. These may help keep players on the floor longer, but they also introduce a degree of inebriation that can reduce a player’s judgment and increase their losses. That’s one reason why casinos don’t have clocks or windows, to prevent players from realizing how much time has passed while they’re betting.

Because of the large amounts of money that change hands, casino security is a major concern. Both patrons and employees may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion with each other or independently. For this reason, most casinos have a security force and a specialized surveillance department.