A casino is a gambling establishment that offers patrons the opportunity to gamble on games of chance. Casinos also offer other entertainment such as live music and shows, and many casinos have restaurants and hotels. Casinos are most often found in the United States, but there are several in other countries as well.
The precise origin of gambling is unknown, but it can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome. Today, gambling is a popular activity with the majority of nations in the world having some type of legalized gaming. According to the American Gaming Association, 51 million people — about one quarter of those who are over 21 — visited a casino in 2002.
In modern times, most casinos use a combination of physical security forces and specialized surveillance departments to protect their guests and assets. Typically, these departments are divided into two separate sections: the physical security force patrols the casino and responds to calls for assistance or reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity; the surveillance department operates the closed circuit television system that is known in the industry as the “eye in the sky.”
Elaborate technological systems also monitor the games themselves. For example, betting chips have built-in microcircuitry that enables the casinos to monitor exact amounts wagered minute by minute and quickly discover any statistical deviation from expected results; and roulette wheels are electronically monitored to detect any tampering. In addition, cameras positioned throughout the casino can be adjusted to focus on specific suspicious patrons by security personnel in a separate room filled with banks of security monitors.