A casino is a gambling establishment that houses a variety of games of chance and offers wagering on those games. The games offered may include slot machines, blackjack, poker and craps. Other games that require skill, such as keno and roulette, are also available in casinos. Many casinos add a host of extras to help attract gamblers, including restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. However, despite these extras, casinos would not exist without the games of chance that they house.

Gambling has long been an important part of human culture. Its precise origin is unknown, but there are records of gaming activities in societies as ancient as Mesopotamia and Greece. Modern casinos, however, are relatively recent, having developed in the United States after Nevada legalized gambling in the 1950s. As more states legalized gambling, casinos expanded and became a major industry.

While something about gambling (perhaps the presence of large amounts of money) encourages people to cheat, steal and scam their way into a jackpot, casinos spend a huge amount of time, effort and money on security. A full-time security staff focuses on making sure that no one takes advantage of the system. They often use video cameras to monitor the games, and they watch the patrons as well. They are also trained to spot blatant cheating, such as palming or marking cards and dice.

While casinos rely on the games of chance for their profits, they also offer incentives to big bettors to encourage them to gamble more than they can afford to lose. These perks, called comps, are free show tickets, discounted travel packages and hotel rooms.