A casino is a public place where a variety of games of chance can be played and where gambling is the primary activity. Casinos often add other amenities to attract customers, such as restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery. Casinos can also be found on American Indian reservations, which are not subject to state antigambling laws.
Many of the most popular casino games, including slot machines, blackjack and poker, originated in Europe. The term “casino” probably derives from the Italian word for little house, which was used to refer to a private club where Italians would meet for social occasions. Casinos became more common in Europe after state legislatures legalized them and the development of more sophisticated gambling devices allowed patrons to bet greater amounts of money.
Something about the presence of large sums of money seems to encourage people to cheat, steal or scam their way into a jackpot. This is why casinos spend a great deal of time, effort and money on security.
Casino security starts on the casino floor, where employees keep their eyes on the games and patrons to make sure everything goes according to plan. Dealers are trained to spot blatant casino cheating, such as palming or marking cards, while table managers and pit bosses watch for betting patterns that could signal collusion between players. Casinos also use elaborate surveillance systems, with cameras in the ceiling that can be adjusted to focus on specific suspicious patrons by security workers in a room filled with banks of computer monitors.