A casino is a large building where people can gamble and play games of chance. Many casinos also offer food and drink. Some are open around the clock. Some are located in places where gambling is legal, like Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Others are on American Indian reservations, where state laws about gambling do not apply.
In modern casinos, security is divided between a physical force that patrols the casino and a specialized surveillance department that operates closed circuit television systems (often called “eye-in-the-sky”). Elaborate surveillance systems allow the casinos to watch every table, window and doorway from a central room filled with banks of monitors. Security personnel can adjust the cameras to focus on suspicious patrons or areas. If a crime or cheating is detected, casino employees can review the tapes and find the culprit.
Some casinos specialize in particular games, notably roulette, blackjack and poker. Some Asian casinos offer traditional Far Eastern games such as sic bo, fan-tan and pai-gow. Slot machines are the most popular form of casino gambling, and generate a larger share of a casino’s profits than any other game. Unlike table games, slot machines do not require any skill to play and have fixed payback percentages.
Gambling in some form has been a part of human culture throughout history. Although it is difficult to pin down a single origin, evidence of gambling activity exists from ancient Mesopotamia and Rome to Elizabethan England and Napoleon’s France. Modern casinos add luxuries such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows to attract players. However, even without these amenities, it is possible for a patron to lose money at a casino.