A casino, also known as a gambling house or a gaming room, is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Casinos feature games of chance and are often combined with hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and other entertainment venues. In the United States, there are more than 3,000 casinos, and they generate billions in revenue each year.
The precise origin of gambling is unknown, but it is believed that people have been betting on the outcome of events since the dawn of history. From Ancient Mesopotamia to Elizabethan England, gambling has been embraced by almost every culture. Today, casinos are primarily located in the United States, though a few are found in Europe and South America. Some are standalone, while others are part of hotel-casino complexes that offer many luxuries and amenities, including spa services, golf courses and a variety of dining options.
While lighted fountains, musical shows and luxury rooms help draw in the crowds, casino profits are derived mostly from games of chance. The built-in advantage for the house on most games can be relatively small—less than two percent—but over time that can add up to significant profits.
In order to safeguard those profits, casinos invest considerable time and money in security. Security starts on the casino floor, where employees are trained to spot a wide range of cheating tricks (like palming, marking or switching cards) and to recognize suspicious betting patterns. Elaborate surveillance systems include high-tech eye-in-the-sky systems that allow security workers to watch every table, window and doorway simultaneously.