A casino is a gambling establishment where patrons place bets with chips that represent cash. The games available at casinos differ by location, but they usually include some mix of card and table games. Many casinos also offer a wide variety of video and arcade games.

Most casinos have security measures in place to prevent cheating and stealing by both patrons and employees. Surveillance cameras are located throughout the casino, and each employee has a higher-up that tracks their activity, looking for blatant cheating and other deviations from protocol. Table dealers and pit bosses are particularly vigilant to observing betting patterns that may suggest collusion or cheating.

The precise origin of gambling is unknown, but it has been a part of human culture for millennia in various forms. The earliest evidence comes from 2300 BC China, where archaeologists found wooden blocks used for gaming. Dice and cards appeared in Europe around 500 AD, and the first modern casino — the Casino de Monte Carlo — opened in Monaco in 1856.

Casinos make money by accepting bets that have a built in mathematical advantage for the house. While this edge is typically very small, it is enough to sustain the huge profits that casino owners use to build extravagant hotels, fountains, towers and replicas of famous landmarks. In addition, casinos comp (or compensate) big bettors with free hotel rooms, meals and spectacular entertainment. Lesser bettors receive reduced-fare transportation and perks like free drinks and cigarettes while gambling.