Casino (also known as a gambling hall) is a facility where people can play various games of chance for money. Some casinos also offer other amusements such as stage shows and dramatic scenery. A casino may be licensed or regulated and is usually located in a resort, hotel or other large building. Casinos have a long history and the concept is well established throughout much of the world.
Despite their popularity, many casinos are controversial and have been accused of being addictive and socially harmful. In addition, critics point out that the economic benefits a casino brings to a region are often offset by costs associated with compulsive gambling.
Although gambling probably predates recorded history, the casino as a place for patrons to find a variety of gambling activities under one roof did not develop until the 16th century during a gambling craze in Europe. This was when wealthy Italian aristocrats created private gaming houses called ridotti where they played games such as dice, card and board. Gambling was technically illegal but the aristocrats were rarely bothered by law enforcement.
Modern casinos employ two specialized departments to deal with security and monitoring: a physical force that patrols the premises and a specialized surveillance department that uses closed circuit television to monitor every table, window and doorway. Elaborate systems can also track betting patterns to spot cheating; for example, some casino poker rooms use chips with built-in microcircuitry that interacts electronically to enable casino personnel to oversee the exact amount wagered minute by minute and to warn players of any deviation from expected results.