A casino is a gambling establishment where patrons can play games of chance or skill, including card games like poker and blackjack. It also features table games such as baccarat, roulette and craps. A casino may also have video poker and other electronic gaming machines. In addition to these games, a casino may offer food and drink. It may be owned and operated by a private company or public corporation.
Although gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, the concept of a place where people could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century, when a craze for it swept Europe and Italian aristocrats used private rooms called ridotti to host social parties that included gambling [Source: Schwartz].
Security is important to casino operations. Cameras are routinely placed in rooms to monitor patron activities and security personnel look for anything that is out of the ordinary. The patterns of game play and the reactions of players follow certain routines; this makes it relatively easy for security staff to spot any abnormal behavior.
In addition to surveillance systems, casinos employ a number of less visible means to protect their assets and profits. Chip tracking, a system in which the betting chips have built-in microcircuitry, allows the house to oversee exactly how much money is being wagered on each game minute by minute; and roulette wheels are monitored electronically to detect statistical deviations from their expected results.