A casino is a gambling establishment with a wide variety of games of chance, along with dining and entertainment. Musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers all help to attract the crowds, but casinos would not exist without games of chance like slot machines, roulette, craps, baccarat and blackjack which provide the billions in profits that casinos rake in every year.
Gambling almost certainly predates written history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice appearing in archeological digs [Source: Schwartz]. But the modern casino as a venue where patrons can find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not emerge until the 16th century during a gambling craze sweeping Europe. Italian aristocrats gathered in private parties called ridotti to indulge in their passion for gambling, and many of these parties were held in places that were technically illegal [Source: Schwartz].
The most popular game in casinos is the slot machine, which provides the greatest percentage of casino earnings. The simplicity of the game appeals to players: they simply insert money, pull a handle or push a button and wait to see what happens. No amount of skill or strategy can affect the outcome. Varying bands of colored shapes roll on reels (actual physical or video) and if the right pattern comes up, the player wins a preset amount of money.
Because large amounts of money are handled within a casino, there is always the potential for cheating and theft by both staff and patrons, in collusion or independently. For this reason, most casinos have a substantial security force and specialized surveillance departments. Security staff patrol the floor and respond to reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity, and cameras are located throughout the facility.