A casino is a place where various gambling activities are undertaken. It may also house entertainment venues such as restaurants, bars and stage shows. It may also be attached to a hotel or other tourist facilities. It is not necessary to have a casino for gambling to take place, but casinos provide an atmosphere that is conducive to it.
While gambling likely predates recorded history, the casino as a venue where patrons could find all manner of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century. A gambling craze swept Europe at the time, and Italian aristocrats often met for social occasions in private gambling clubs called ridotti. These were basically small clubhouses where gambling was the main attraction, and they rarely attracted the attention of authorities.
Casinos make their money by accepting bets on games of chance, including those with an element of skill such as craps, roulette and baccarat. Each game has a built in statistical advantage for the casino, known as the house edge. In the case of games like poker where patrons play against each other, the casino makes its profit by taking a percentage of the pot or charging an hourly fee to players.
Given the large amounts of currency handled within a casino, both patrons and employees may be tempted to cheat or steal. For this reason, most casinos have security measures in place. These may include cameras, although some employ more elaborate measures such as catwalks on the ceiling where surveillance personnel can look directly down at table games and slot machines through one way glass.