A casino (or gambling house) is an establishment for certain types of gambling. It may also refer to a collection of such establishments. Casinos are usually combined with hotels, restaurants, spas, and other tourist attractions. In the US, the term is mostly used for casinos located in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. It is less common to see a casino in a metropolitan area outside of Nevada, but there are several large casinos in Chicago and other cities.
Although gambling probably predates written history, the casino as a place for people to find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century, during a gambling craze that swept Europe. At that time, nobles held private parties at gaming tables called ridotti. Technically, gambling was illegal, but the aristocrats rarely got bothered by the Italian Inquisition.
Modern casinos employ a variety of sophisticated security measures to prevent cheating and theft by patrons or by the staff. Cameras are everywhere, and the entire casino can be monitored from a single room filled with banks of security monitors. Elaborate systems enable the casino to watch all the action at every table, change the focus of surveillance cameras quickly, and warn players or dealers when a pattern develops.
Casinos also use computers to track patrons’ play and spending habits. Many casinos offer loyalty programs that reward high rollers with free slot plays or coupons for food, drinks, or shows. The programs also allow the casinos to build a profile of each patron, so that when they are ready to gamble, the casino knows what type of games the patron likes and how much they are likely to spend.