A casino is a gambling establishment where patrons can gamble on various games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette and craps are the main casino games, providing billions of dollars in profits for the owners of these establishments each year. Other attractions include musical shows, lighted fountains and lavish hotels. While the dazzling decorations and flashing lights may attract some patrons, casinos would not survive without the games of chance themselves.
Gambling almost certainly predates written history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice among the oldest archaeological finds [Source: Schwartz]. The casino as a place where people could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof developed in the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats often gathered in private party rooms called ridotti to indulge their passion for gambling, even though the activity was technically illegal.
The modern casino is a complex affair that requires sophisticated security measures to keep the billions of dollars in profits flowing smoothly. Employees patrol the floor and look for blatant cheating or suspicious betting patterns. Cameras positioned throughout the casino allow security personnel to watch every table and window at once, and they can adjust cameras to focus on specific suspicious patrons.
In addition to surveillance systems, most casinos employ a host of tactics to persuade people to gamble. They offer comps, which are free items that encourage gamblers to spend more money. For example, a casino might give its best bettors free show tickets or reduced-fare transportation and hotel rooms. It might also offer alcoholic beverages and snacks. Bright and sometimes gaudy floor and wall coverings, as well as the noise and buzz of the casino, stimulate and excite patrons. In addition, most casinos do not display clocks, because they want people to lose track of time and focus on the gambling activity.