A casino (or gambling house) is an establishment that houses various games of chance and has a high-level security system to protect patrons. Casinos also have a wide variety of restaurants, bars and other entertainment options. Casinos are often combined with hotels, resorts, retail shopping and cruise ships. Casinos are most famous for their poker rooms, but they offer a full range of gaming options including blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps.

Modern casinos are designed to provide a thrilling environment that appeals to the senses and entices people to gamble. They feature swank residential-style hotel rooms, visually stimulating bars and nightclubs and jaw-dropping architectural designs. But while musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate themes are used to draw patrons, a casino’s main source of profits comes from gambling. Games such as slots, blackjack, baccarat and roulette generate billions in profits each year for casino owners.

Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in archaeological digs. But the first true casinos developed in the 16th century during a gambling craze that swept Europe, with wealthy Italian nobles gathering at places called ridotti to enjoy their favorite games of chance.

While casinos employ a number of technological measures to ensure fairness, they rely on their employees to enforce the rules and keep the peace. Dealers at table games watch each other closely for blatant cheating, and pit bosses and managers watch players with a wider view to make sure they’re not switching cards or making other subtle errors. In addition to a physical security force, most casinos have a specialized department that monitors their closed-circuit television system, known as an eye-in-the-sky.