A casino is an establishment for gambling. Modern casinos often combine a full range of gambling activities with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, and entertainment for tourists and locals. In addition to slot machines, most have table games such as roulette, blackjack, poker, and baccarat.
Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and even carved six-sided dice being found in archaeological sites. The modern casino as a place where people can find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof, however, did not emerge until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Rich nobles and aristocrats often had private gambling rooms called ridotti, where they could play various games of chance with friends without fear of legal persecution.
Casinos are most famous for their table games and slot machines, but there’s much more to them than that. Many have elaborate restaurants and clubs, and some offer other forms of entertainment such as acrobatics, magic shows, and celebrity appearances.
Although most casino gambling is done by hand, some have made heavy investments in technology. For instance, casinos regularly use “chip tracking,” in which betting chips with built-in microcircuitry interact with electronic systems at each table to allow the casinos to see minute-by-minute exactly what is being wagered and quickly discover any deviation from normal behavior. Casinos also monitor the results of each game regularly with computerized equipment, such as a system called “eye in the sky,” which allows security personnel to watch every table, change window, and doorway in real time.