A casino is a place where gambling is the main activity. It may also have restaurants, bars and other entertainment venues. A casino is usually located in a tourist destination and attracts gamblers from all over the world. Some casinos are lavishly decorated, offering a high-end experience for guests. Some even have restaurants that serve gourmet cuisine.
The earliest recorded casino dates to the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian aristocrats hosted private parties called ridotti, where they played games of chance such as dice, cards, keno and horse racing. Casinos as we know them today evolved in the 19th century, when Atlantic City became a hot spot for legal gaming, and Nevada passed the first state law allowing it. Other states quickly followed suit, and a large number of gambling establishments opened across the United States and the world.
Casinos are heavily regulated, and security is paramount. Elaborate surveillance systems allow security workers in a separate room filled with banks of security monitors to watch every table, window and doorway at the same time. The system can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons by a supervisor, who can also monitor the video feed from the casino floor through one-way mirrors on the ceiling.
In addition to security, casinos must contend with compulsive gambling. Studies show that the money sucked up by people with addictions to gambling dwarfs the profits casinos make, and can actually have a negative impact on a community because of a shift in local spending habits and the cost of treating problem gamblers.