A casino is a gambling establishment, where patrons can place bets on a variety of games of chance. Casinos are found worldwide, with the most famous being located in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Some casinos are operated on American Indian reservations, which allow them to bypass state laws that prohibit gambling. Many casinos offer a wide range of casino games, including slot machines and table games such as blackjack.
Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found at the oldest archaeological sites. However, the modern casino as an institution providing a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century. At that time, a gambling craze swept Europe, with Italian aristocrats hosting private parties at places called ridotti to avoid the attention of the Inquisition.
While most casino gambling is legal, some casinos employ security measures to deter cheating and stealing by both patrons and employees. In addition to video cameras, some casinos use technology such as “chip tracking,” where betting chips have built-in microcircuitry that allows them to be scanned and monitored minute-by-minute, and electronic roulette wheels to detect any statistical deviations from normal results.
Despite the popularity of casinos, many economists believe that they do not add much to local economies. They claim that casino revenue shifts spending from other forms of entertainment, and that the costs of treating compulsive gambling and lost productivity offset any economic gains. Nonetheless, the casino industry is growing rapidly.