A casino is a gambling establishment that allows patrons to wager money on games of chance. A casino may also offer other forms of entertainment such as stage shows, free drinks and fine dining. Casinos are usually built near or combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shops and cruise ships. They are sometimes known as gaming houses or gambling halls. The precise origin of casino is uncertain, but it is generally believed to date back to ancient Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, where certain gambling games were played. Modern casinos are primarily found in the United States, though some are located in other countries.
The first modern American casinos grew out of the large saloons built during the Wild West era, especially in Nevada, where legal casino gambling has been allowed since the 1940s. They largely depend on tourists, who visit for the casinos’ special attractions such as free drinks and elaborate stage shows. A few casinos, such as the Bellagio in Las Vegas and the Empire at Leicester Square in London, have become famous landmarks in their own right.
Security is a major concern for most casinos. The casino’s floor is patrolled by casino employees who watch the players, attempting to spot any suspicious behavior or cheating. Cameras positioned throughout the casino give an “eye-in-the-sky” view that can be focused on specific tables, windows and doors. In addition to this technology, some casinos use more subtle surveillance methods such as counting chips and observing body language. Something about gambling seems to encourage people to try and cheat or steal, which is why casinos spend so much time, effort and money on security.