A casino is a building that houses gambling games. It may be a large entertainment complex, or it may be a collection of smaller rooms, such as those in Las Vegas. Some casinos also offer nongambling activities, such as shopping and dining. Casinos are most often located in cities with large numbers of tourists, and they compete to attract them with bright lights and entertainment. They are also located near water and mountains for the views they provide.
Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and even carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites. But the casino as a place to gamble in a variety of ways did not develop until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats gathered in small private places called ridotti to socialize and gamble. These venues were technically illegal, but the gambling was so popular that the police rarely bothered them.
Something about the chemistry of gambling encourages people to cheat and steal. That’s why casino security is a big business. Security personnel use cameras mounted in the ceiling to watch every table, change window and doorway. They can adjust the cameras to focus on suspicious patrons. They also keep careful track of the number of times a player wins and loses on each game.
Some casinos specialize in specific games, such as blackjack and poker. Others are renowned for the elegance of their interior design. The elegant spa town of Baden-Baden, for example, has a casino that was designed by the Swiss architect Mario Botta. Its multifaceted layout offers spectacular views of Lake Lugano and the steep mountains on the Italian border.