A casino, also known as a gambling house or a gaming hall, is a place where people can participate in various types of gambling. In addition to traditional games such as blackjack and poker, casinos often feature a variety of electronic machines that have been programmed to pay out winnings according to the rules of the game. Many casinos are operated by governments, while others are owned by private businesses or corporations. In some countries, such as the United States, casinos are regulated by law.
While gambling in some form has almost certainly existed as long as human society, the modern casino began to develop in the 16th century, as a result of a general gambling craze that spread throughout Europe. In Italy, wealthy aristocrats would meet in clubs called ridotti to gamble and socialize, even though gambling was technically illegal [Source: Schwartz].
The development of the modern casino has been accelerated by the proliferation of laws in favor of legalizing casinos. In the United States, casinos began to appear in Atlantic City and other cities as well as on Native American reservations. In the 1980s, many states amended their antigambling laws to allow casinos.
Due to the large amounts of money that are handled within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion with each other or independently. For this reason, casinos invest a great deal of time, effort and money into security. In addition to guards and cameras, most casinos have systems that electronically monitor games for anomalies, such as betting chips with built-in microcircuitry that interact with computerized systems that record the amount wagered minute by minute; or roulette wheels that are monitored electronically to discover any statistical deviation from their expected results.