A casino is a gambling establishment that offers players the opportunity to gamble. Games played in casinos include slot machines, blackjack and craps, as well as other games with a high degree of skill. Casinos also give out complimentary items or comps to their best players, such as free hotel rooms and meals, tickets to shows and even limo service and airline tickets.

While gambling probably predates recorded history, the modern casino as a place to find a variety of ways to bet under one roof did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian aristocrats would hold private parties known as ridotti in which they could gamble to their heart’s content [source: Schwartz]. Casinos today are like indoor amusement parks for adults, with elaborate hotels, shopping centers, musical shows and lighted fountains all drawing in the crowds, but gambling still accounts for the billions of dollars that casinos rake in each year.

Due to the large amounts of money handled within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently; casinos spend enormous sums on security measures in order to prevent this. In addition to armed guards and video cameras, many casinos have special surveillance equipment that watches the action closely; for example, roulette wheels are electronically monitored minute-by-minute so that any statistical deviation can be quickly discovered. Casinos are not immune to the forces of corruption; they have long been a magnet for organized crime figures.