A casino is a building that offers a variety of ways to gamble under one roof. While gambling has almost certainly existed since recorded history – primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice are found in archaeological sites, for example – the modern casino as a gathering place to gamble did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe.
Most casinos offer card games such as blackjack and baccarat. Some offer dice games such as boule and snooker. Most also have electronic versions of table games like roulette and video poker. Some offer traditional Far Eastern games such as sic bo and fan-tan.
Each game has a built in mathematical advantage for the casino, called the house edge. This can be as low as two percent, but it adds up over the millions of bets placed by patrons each day. It is rare for a casino to lose money on its games, even for a single day. This virtual assurance of gross profit enables casinos to lavish large bettors with extravagant inducements. These can include free spectacular entertainment, reduced-fare transportation and elegant living quarters.
Casinos employ many high-tech security measures to protect their patrons. For example, some use catwalks in the ceiling above the casino floor to allow security personnel to look down through one-way glass on the activities at tables and slot machines. Other uses of technology include chip tracking, in which betting chips are integrated with computer systems that allow them to be overseen minute by minute; and electronic monitoring of roulette wheels to discover any statistical deviations from their expected results.