A casino is a building where people can gamble and play games of chance. It may also have restaurants, bars, shops, and other entertainment facilities. Some casinos are historic and elegant, while others are glass-and-steel temples to overindulgence.
Although gambling probably predates recorded history, the casino as a place where a variety of gambling activities take place under one roof did not emerge until the sixteenth century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Originally, casinos were small clubs for Italian aristocrats where they could socialize and gamble away their fortunes without the risk of getting caught. They were called ridotti, and they remained popular even after gambling became illegal.
Today, many casinos use technology to monitor their patrons. For example, betting chips with built-in microcircuitry enable a casino to see exactly how much is wagered minute by minute; roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly to discover any statistical deviation from their expected results; and card games use computer programs that can detect anything out of the ordinary. Security cameras are another important feature, and the movements and habits of players at a particular game often follow certain patterns that are easy for security personnel to pick up on.
Despite all these tricks of the trade, it is still not easy to make money gambling in a casino. Most casinos operate on a very thin margin, usually less than two percent. The typical casino gambler is a forty-six-year-old female from a household with an above average income. These statistics come from the 2005 National Profile Study by Roper Reports GfK NOP and the U.S. Gaming Panel by TNS.