A casino is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. Casinos can range from massive resorts and hotel casinos to small card rooms and even mobile gaming units on trucks and in grocery stores. Casino gambling earns billions of dollars each year for the companies, investors, and Native American tribes that own and operate them. It also brings in millions of visitors from all over the world. In addition, casinos have a major economic impact on the cities and communities that host them.
While gambling probably predates recorded history (primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice have been found in ancient archaeological sites), the modern casino as we know it developed in the 16th century during a gambling craze in Europe. Italian aristocrats held private parties at their residences, called ridotti, to gamble in privacy without the watchful eye of legal authorities.
In the 21st century, casinos are increasingly focusing on high rollers who gamble in special rooms and can make bets of tens of thousands of dollars or more. These high-stakes patrons may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion with other players or by themselves, so casinos have elaborate surveillance systems. These include cameras that are positioned throughout the casino and can be adjusted by personnel in a room filled with banks of monitors.
Casinos use a variety of incentives to keep their loyal patrons coming back, including comps such as free hotel rooms and show tickets. Most casinos also have clubs that are similar to airline frequent-flyer programs and offer gamblers the opportunity to exchange points for free slot play or food and drinks.