A casino, also called a gambling house or gaming room, is an establishment where people can gamble and play games of chance. Some casinos are built around or combined with hotels, restaurants, and other tourist attractions. The term casino may also refer to an institution for problem gamblers.
Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found at the oldest archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. But the casino as a place where patrons can find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats gathered in ridotti, which were like private clubs, to gamble and socialize with friends.
Casinos are generally secure places, with elaborate surveillance systems and rules designed to prevent cheating. Security personnel on the floor keep their eyes peeled for blatant crooked dealing, marking or switching of cards and dice, while pit bosses and table managers watch over larger areas to spot any suspicious betting patterns. And a separate room filled with banks of monitors offers the “eye-in-the-sky” capability that allows security staff to watch every table, change window and doorway at once.
Despite their tight security, casino patrons can still be taken advantage of by a well-meaning staff eager to give them comps, or free stuff. These can include free hotel rooms and meals, show tickets, limo service and airline tickets for big spenders. It’s the casino’s way of saying thanks for spending your money.