A casino, or gambling house, is a place where people can take part in gambling activities. Casinos may also include entertainment facilities such as restaurants and bars. They can be found around the world and are often combined with hotels, resorts, and cruise ships.
The term casino was probably derived from the Spanish word for “house,” which refers to a public place where gambling activities are carried out. The casino as a modern concept began to develop in the 16th century, when gambling crazes swept Europe. Italian aristocrats would hold private parties in venues known as ridotti, where gambling was the primary activity [source: Schwartz].
Since casinos deal with large amounts of money and are open to the public, they must employ numerous security measures. Casino security personnel are trained to spot cheating and theft by patrons. They usually monitor games with cameras, and the video feeds can be reviewed afterward to catch any irregularities.
In addition to cameras, some casinos use special chips that contain microcircuitry and are monitored minute by minute; roulette wheels are electronically checked for any statistical deviations; and slot machines are programmed to pay out within certain limits based on random probability calculations. Casinos also have security departments that investigate reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity.
There are approximately 3,000 casinos worldwide. The largest casinos in the world are located in Las Vegas, Nevada; Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Macau, China. Many American Indian reservations have casinos, which are exempt from state antigambling laws. In the United States, there are now 40 states with legalized casinos.