The casino is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of games of chance or skill. It also offers other perks like complimentary drinks, food, spa services and show tickets. Casinos make their money by charging a percentage of total bets to gamblers called the vig or rake.
The first casinos were built in European spa towns. For example, the elegant gambling den in Baden-Baden first drew royalty and aristocrats 150 years ago and still attracts visitors today with its opulent poker rooms, red-and-gold roulette tables and Hermes and Chanel boutiques. The casino craze spread to the United States after state legislatures legalized it. The United States has more than 1,000 casinos and is the largest casino market in the world, with Las Vegas having the biggest concentration.
Gambling has long been a popular pastime and almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice, cut knuckle bones and carved six-sided dice found in the oldest archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. The modern casino began to develop during the 16th century as a result of a gambling craze that swept Europe at the time. Italian aristocrats held parties in private rooms known as ridotti, where they could gamble and socialize without being bothered by legal authorities.
The modern casino has an elaborate surveillance system designed to catch cheating and other criminal behavior. Security workers can watch the entire floor of a casino from a room filled with banks of security monitors, and they can zoom in on particular areas or suspicious patrons. Security personnel also study the patterns of behavior among casino guests. Dealers look for blatant cheating such as palming, marking and swapping cards or dice. Table managers and pit bosses have a broader view of the table, keeping track of betting patterns that might indicate collusion between players or that someone is being defrauded.