A casino (or gaming hall) is a place where people can play various games of chance for money. It is also a place where people can bet on sporting events and other things. In some countries casinos are regulated and operated by government agencies. In others they are unregulated and operate in a legal grey area.

The first casinos were private parties hosted by Italian aristocrats in rooms known as ridotti [source: Schwartz]. Though gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, the casino as we know it did not develop until the 16th century when a casino craze swept Europe. This coincided with a boom in the availability of dice, from primitive protodice to the carved six-sided variety.

Casinos earn their income from the statistical advantage they build into every game they offer. This advantage may be as little as one or two percent, but it accumulates over millions of bets and allows the casinos to finance fountains, towers and replicas of famous landmarks. Casinos also make money from the high-speed, high-volume cash transactions that occur at slots and video poker machines.

Because large amounts of currency move through a casino, both patrons and employees may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. To counter these tendencies, casinos employ numerous security measures. These include cameras throughout the building, and elaborate systems that give surveillance personnel a high-tech “eye in the sky” of the entire casino floor, changing window and doorway.