A casino, or gambling house, is a place where people can gamble on games of chance. Casinos often contain numerous gambling tables, and many feature stage shows. They also offer food and drink. Some are built near or combined with hotels, resorts, cruise ships, retail shopping, and other tourist attractions. Some casinos are located on Native American reservations and are not subject to state antigambling laws.

Although gambling probably existed in primitive forms long before recorded history, the casino as a place where patrons could find a variety of ways to wager under one roof did not emerge until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. During this time, Italian aristocrats used to gather in private clubs called ridotti where they could gamble and socialize without fear of being interrupted by the authorities.

Modern casinos are heavily guarded to prevent cheating and stealing by both patrons and employees. Elaborate surveillance systems allow security personnel to watch every table, change window, and doorway from a control room filled with banks of monitors. Casinos also use cameras mounted in the ceiling to observe slot machine payoffs.

Successful casinos make billions each year for the companies, investors, and local governments that run them. They may be as lavish as Las Vegas, or as modest as a card room in a neighborhood bar. They generate revenue from a variety of sources, including bets made by patrons on the games’ outcomes, and from concessions such as free drinks and discounted hotel rooms.