A casino is a room or building in which games of chance are played. A casino is also a facility for certain types of entertainment, such as stage shows and sporting events. Some casinos are connected to hotels, resorts or cruise ships. There are more than 1,000 casinos worldwide. The United States has the most, with Las Vegas the largest. Casinos are regulated by state law and primarily operated by gaming control boards. Many casinos also offer a variety of table games, such as blackjack, roulette and poker. Some even offer traditional Far Eastern games such as sic bo (which spread to several European and American casinos during the 1990s) and fan-tan.
Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found in the oldest archaeological sites. But the modern casino as a gathering place for people to find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century, when gambling crazes swept Europe and Italian aristocrats created private clubs called ridotti to satisfy their cravings.
Today’s casino facilities are designed to be as safe as possible for the patrons. Security measures include cameras that watch every table, window and doorway, with a high-tech “eye in the sky” that can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons by casino security workers in a separate room filled with banks of monitors. Some casinos have catwalks that allow surveillance personnel to look down on the floor through one-way glass. In addition to the obvious security measures, the casino industry spends a great deal of money trying to prevent compulsive gambling. Studies show that this behavior destroys families and communities and that the cost of treating problem gamblers and lost productivity outweighs any financial gains from casinos.