A casino is a public place where a variety of games of chance can be played and where gambling is the primary activity. In addition to the games of chance, a typical casino offers other luxuries such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows to attract customers. There have been less elaborate places that housed gambling activities, and these would still technically be called casinos.

Gambling has been part of human culture for millennia. Evidence of dice throwing dates back to 2300 BC, and playing cards came into use in about 500 AD. The modern casino has its roots in European gambling houses, which were legalized in the second half of the 19th century.

Because a casino deals in large amounts of money, it is susceptible to both theft and cheating. Consequently, security measures are put in place to prevent both of these activities. The most visible precaution is the presence of security cameras throughout the casino. Another is the rigorous training of employees. Dealers, pit bosses and table managers must be able to spot a number of cheating tactics, including palming, marking and switching cards and dice. They must also be able to recognize betting patterns that indicate attempts to influence the game’s outcome.

Casinos also employ mathematicians who study game theory and mathematical probability to assist in their security operations. This type of work is commonly known as gaming analysis. The mathematicians can help a casino determine its house edge and variance for each game, which tells it what kind of profit to expect from each wager. They can also spot anomalies, such as unusually long periods of low play or an abnormally high rate of winning or losing bets.