A casino is a gambling establishment where patrons can place bets on games of chance and, with any luck, come away with winnings. While gambling in some form likely predates recorded history (carved knuckle bones and primitive protodice are found at archaeological sites), the modern casino as a place where people could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. The term is derived from the Italian word for “ridotto,” a private clubhouse where aristocrats hosted gambling parties. Because large amounts of money are handled in casinos, they are sometimes the target of theft or fraud, either from patrons working together or by independent means; for this reason many casinos have extensive security measures in place. These include physical security forces and a specialized department that operates the casino’s closed circuit television system, often called the eye-in-the-sky system.
The financial mainstay of most American casinos is the profit resulting from millions of bets on video poker machines and slot machines. These machines typically yield an advantage of lower than two percent and require no human intervention to operate, unlike table games such as roulette or craps, where the house edge can be considerably higher. Understanding how casinos make money is important to any player who wants to maximize his or her winning chances.