A casino, also known as a gambling house or a gaming establishment, is a place where people can gamble on various games of chance and in some cases with an element of skill. Most casinos offer free drinks, snacks and stage shows to attract gamblers. In some countries, casinos are regulated and licensed to operate. The casino industry is also a significant employer and contributes to a city’s economy.

Although gambling predates recorded history, the modern casino as a place to find all types of gambling under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. In Italy, wealthy nobles held private parties at their homes called ridotti which were technically illegal, but they rarely got in trouble with the Inquisition because gambling was largely social and fun.

Today, most casinos are heavily reliant on high rollers to fund operations, which is why they treat these big bettors with special attention. These gamblers are often escorted to separate areas where the stakes can be tens of thousands of dollars. They are offered free spectacular entertainment and luxurious accommodations as inducements to play.

Security begins on the casino floor, where all bets are placed and supervised by casino employees. Dealers can easily spot blatant cheating by looking for things like palming, marking or switching cards and dice. The games themselves are also carefully supervised, with electronic systems in the table chips that allow casinos to monitor how much money is wagered minute by minute and warn them immediately of any statistical deviation from expectation.