A casino is a place where games of chance are played. While casinos add many luxuries to attract visitors, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows, they exist primarily to house gambling activities.

Modern casinos look like huge indoor amusement parks for adults, but they wouldn’t exist without the billions of dollars in profits that games of chance (and a few of those with an element of skill) generate each year. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and baccarat are among the biggest money makers.

Although gambling probably existed as long as people have been around, the casino as we know it today didn’t develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and nobles held private parties at places called ridotti [Source: Schwartz]. The modern version of the casino is far more complex than its early precursors, with a wide variety of games and betting options under one roof.

Casinos are a major employer and a significant contributor to the economies of the cities that host them. They also attract millions of visitors each year. They have to spend large sums of money on security measures, because patrons and employees are often tempted to cheat or steal.

There are numerous security measures to prevent this, including cameras and other technological devices. In addition, casinos follow patterns in their operations, so it’s easier for security personnel to spot suspicious behavior when there is a deviation from those norms.