The word Casino has many meanings, but the most common is a gambling establishment. Casinos earn billions of dollars each year for the companies, investors, and Native American tribes that operate them. They also bring in tourists and generate revenue for local businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues. They can be massive resorts or small card rooms in remote cities. The term is also used for a variety of games that use elements of chance or skill, including poker, blackjack, video poker, roulette, and craps.
Gambling in some form probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in the oldest archaeological sites. But the modern casino as an organized place for people to find a wide variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not emerge until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats began to hold private parties at places called ridotti, where they could play various games of chance in a social atmosphere centered on noise and excitement.
Because large amounts of money are handled within casinos, both patrons and employees may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or on their own. As a result, most casinos have extensive security measures in place. These include a physical security force that patrols the premises, as well as a specialized surveillance department that uses closed-circuit television to monitor activity throughout the facility. In addition, some casinos have catwalks that extend from the ceiling over the gaming tables and machines, allowing security personnel to look down on players through one-way glass.