A casino is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. Although gambling probably began before recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites, the casino as we know it did not develop until the 16th century, when Venice became the first government-sanctioned gambling house, or ridotto [Source: Poley]. In addition to offering a variety of gambling activities, the ridotto also offered food and drinks for patrons.

While casinos offer a wide variety of games, they all have one thing in common – the house always wins. Every game has a built in advantage for the casino, and this edge can be as low as two percent. Add to that the millions of bets placed by casino patrons, and it is no surprise that the casinos make money.

Modern casinos feature elaborate surveillance systems. Cameras mounted in the ceiling watch every table, window and doorway, and can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons by security workers in a room filled with banks of security monitors. In addition, all slot machine payouts are determined by computer chips inside the machines, and are monitored on video screens.

Casinos are not illegal in all states, but most do not allow casino gambling unless it is on Indian reservations or at racetracks. Some states limit the number of casino licenses they issue, and others do not permit any gambling at all. Despite this, many people still enjoy weekend bus trips to the nearest casino to try their luck.