A casino is a place where people can play a variety of games of chance for money. The modern casino adds a host of luxuries to help attract players, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. But even without these additions, a casino can still be called a casino, because the primary activity there is gambling.
Something about casinos seems to encourage cheating and stealing, either in collusion between patrons or by individual employees. This is why casinos spend a lot of time and money on security. In addition to video cameras, some casinos have catwalks that allow security personnel to look down on table games from above; others use special betting chips with built-in microcircuitry that enable the casino to supervise bets minute by minute and spot anomalies; and roulette wheels are electronically monitored for signs of crookedness.
Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive dice and carved knuckle bones found in ancient archaeological sites. But the casino as a gathering place for gambling did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian nobles began hosting private parties at places called ridotti.
The modern casino is generally located in an urban area and serves a predominantly affluent clientele. However, casinos are also popular with suburbanites and those from rural areas who can afford the high stakes. In general, older people—especially women—make up the largest group of casino gamblers. This is because they have the most available time and spending money. However, some studies suggest that the social costs of problem gambling outweigh any economic benefits.