A casino is a gambling establishment, usually featuring card games and dice. While gambling likely predates recorded history, it didn’t become a common form of entertainment until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian aristocrats held private parties at a variety of locations known as ridotti (literally “places” for gambling) [Source: Schwartz].

A modern casino features a wide variety of games, including blackjack, baccarat, keno, craps, roulette, and poker. Casinos also offer video poker and slots. Most casinos make money by imposing a built in statistical advantage on patrons, which is typically less than two percent. The house advantage is sometimes referred to as the vig or rake. Casinos use gaming mathematicians to determine the optimal play for each game, as well as the expected return on bets.

Casinos are regulated by state and local governments, and they may have to comply with antigambling laws. In the United States, the first legal casinos appeared in Atlantic City in 1978 and then spread to other cities and to American Indian reservations, which are exempt from state antigambling laws.

Many casinos take steps to ensure security on the premises, which can include video cameras and a high-tech eye-in-the-sky system that allows security personnel to monitor each table, change window, and doorway simultaneously. The cameras are often adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons. In addition, casino employees often follow specific routines and patterns, which can help spot someone who is acting out of character. In addition, windows and clocks are rare in casinos, so gamblers can lose hours without realizing it.