A casino is a gambling establishment that features a variety of games of chance. While casinos often add luxuries like restaurants, free drinks and stage shows to attract customers, the vast majority of their profits come from gambling. The most popular casino games include slot machines, blackjack, craps, baccarat and roulette. The house has a mathematical advantage in all these games, although skill can play a small role in some of them. The advantage is called the house edge. Some casinos offer a fixed percentage of the money wagered as a payout, while others take a rake, or commission, from each bet.
While gambling probably existed in primitive forms before recorded history, the modern casino as a collection of gaming rooms did not appear until the second half of the 19th century. The famous Monte Carlo casino opened in 1863 and became a major source of revenue for the principality of Monaco. By the late 20th century, most countries had changed their laws to permit casinos.
Today’s casinos employ a range of technological measures to ensure the safety of patrons and protect their assets. The specialized security department of a casino usually includes both a physical security force and a centralized surveillance system. The two departments work closely together to respond to requests for assistance and to report suspicious or definite criminal activity. Casinos also use technology to monitor the games themselves. For example, some betting chips have built-in microcircuitry that interacts with electronic systems to enable casinos to oversee the exact amounts wagered minute-by-minute and to alert them quickly if there is a statistical deviation from expected results.