A casino is a place where people can gamble by playing games of chance. The games may have an element of skill, but they are designed to ensure that the house always has an advantage over players. This advantage is mathematically determined and called the house edge. The casino also takes a fee from each player that is referred to as the rake or tip. Some casinos reward loyal players with free goods or services, known as comps.
While gambling probably predates recorded history, the casino as a central gathering place for a variety of gambling activities did not develop until the 16th century. At that time, a gambling craze was sweeping Europe, and wealthy noblemen would gather in private clubs known as ridotti to wager on horses or dice. While the money pumped into casinos by organized crime in the 1950s helped them attract gamblers from around the world, many legitimate businessmen were wary of the industry’s seamy reputation and stayed away.
The modern casino is a high-tech affair, with surveillance cameras and sophisticated monitoring systems. In addition to standard security cameras, some casinos use special technologies such as “chip tracking” where betting chips have built-in microcircuitry to monitor the amount of money being wagered minute by minute, and roulette wheels are electronically monitored for any statistical deviations from expected results. Some casinos use catwalks on the ceiling to allow surveillance personnel to look directly down through one-way glass at game play in booths and tables.