A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of games of chance for money. Many casinos also offer restaurant services and stage shows. Most casino games have some element of skill, but the house always has a mathematical edge over the players. This advantage, which is the expected value of a bet, is called the house edge. Some games, such as blackjack, require a minimum amount of skill. In addition, some casinos have poker rooms where patrons play against each other. In these games, the casino makes its profit by taking a rake, or a percentage of the pot.
Something about the casino environment (probably the presence of large amounts of money) seems to encourage cheating and stealing, either in collusion with staff or independently by patrons. Consequently, modern casinos devote a lot of time and money to security. Modern casino security is usually divided between a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department. The former patrols the premises and responds to calls for assistance and reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity. The latter operates the casino’s closed circuit television system, often referred to as the “eye-in-the-sky.” These cameras can be remotely adjusted to focus on particular tables, windows and doorways, and are viewed in a room filled with banks of security monitors.
While gambling may have existed as early as recorded history, the modern casino as a place where people can find a wide range of gambling activities under one roof did not emerge until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian nobles began to hold private parties in their homes, which were known as ridotti.