One of the most exciting adventures on many people’s bucket lists is travelling to a casino. Whether that interest stems from the thrill of visiting the biggest casinos in the world or simply from having experienced a casino-themed film, there is something about casinos that evokes excitement and glamour.

Casinos are gambling centers that bring in billions of dollars every year for the owners, investors and Native American tribes that run them. While the sights and sounds of musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and themed hotels help draw in patrons, the primary source of a casino’s profits comes from games of chance like blackjack, poker, craps and baccarat.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in some of the oldest archaeological sites. But the modern casino, which combines a variety of games under one roof, first emerged in the 16th century during an Italian gambling craze, when rich citizens would hold private parties at venues known as ridotti.

These small clubs were usually decorated in bright colors and lit with stimulating lights. They also featured music and dancing, and a raucous atmosphere. The term casino was later adopted by Europeans, who adapted the concept to their own tastes. Today, casino decorations often include bold and sometimes gaudy floor and wall coverings that create a cheering effect and help patrons forget about the pressure of winning or losing. They may feature a host of other distractions, such as noisy and crowded table games or the thump of slots spinning and whirring. Because large amounts of money are handled within a casino, security is a high priority. Casinos employ a number of technological measures, such as cameras and sensors that track patron movements and tally up their game play.