A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of games of chance and is legally licensed to do so. In addition to the games themselves, many casinos offer stage shows, free drinks and other luxuries to attract customers. Some also have strict anti-cheating policies to ensure fair play. However, it is important to note that gambling addiction can lead to serious problems, and many casino gamblers are not properly monitored. Fortunately, there are many ways to help prevent gambling addiction, including self-exclusion and deposit limits.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice being found in ancient archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. The modern casino as a place where people could find all kinds of gambling activities under one roof did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. At that time, Italian aristocrats would hold private parties at places called ridotti to socialize and gamble.

The modern casino uses high-tech surveillance equipment and computers to control the games. For example, chips with built-in microcircuitry interact with electronic systems in the tables to enable casinos to oversee how much is wagered minute by minute and warn dealers of any anomaly; roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly to discover statistical deviations from their expected results. These and other methods reduce the house’s advantage to a small percentage of total wagers.

The house edge and variance are the most important statistics that casinos keep track of for each game. These figures tell them how much of a profit they will make as a percentage of total turnover and how large a cash reserve they should have on hand to cover losses. In addition, casinos use mathematically determined odds for each game to inform their decisions about which games to offer and what the payoffs will be.