A casino is a building where people gamble on games of chance. It is usually very lavish, with restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. During the 1990s casinos dramatically increased their use of technology, with video surveillance systems keeping an eye on table play and computer programs monitoring the results of the games themselves for statistical deviations from expectations.
While gambling in some form predates recorded history – primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice can be found in most archaeological sites – the modern idea of a casino emerged in Europe during the 16th century, when an Italian craze for gambling prompted noblemen to set up private clubs called ridotti. [Source: Schwartz]
Modern casinos are often very large, with multiple gaming floors and a variety of games. A typical casino will have a wide range of slot machines, poker, blackjack and roulette tables. Other popular games include baccarat and craps. Some casinos also have more exotic games, such as sic bo and fan-tan, or offer different versions of traditional favorites, like pai gow and boule.
While the best-known casinos are in Las Vegas, they can be found all over the world. For instance, the Bellagio in Las Vegas has become famous for its spectacular fountain show and luxurious accommodations. The Grand Lisboa in Macau is one of the most spectacular buildings on the planet, designed to resemble a birdcage and covered with more than a million LED lights.