A casino is a place where people can play games of chance and win money. While casinos often add other forms of entertainment such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows to attract players, they are defined by gambling and it is this that generates the billions of dollars in profits that casinos rake in every year.
Something about gambling (maybe the chance to walk away with a jackpot) seems to encourage some people to cheat, steal or otherwise manipulate their way into winning, which is why casinos spend so much time and money on security. This starts on the casino floor, where employees keep their eyes peeled for any suspicious betting patterns or blatant cheating at tables. Casinos also have high-tech eye-in-the-sky surveillance systems that can be adjusted to focus on specific patrons by security workers in a separate room filled with banks of security monitors.
While gambling in some form has been around almost as long as humans have, the casino as a place for people to find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof developed in the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. The word “casino” is believed to come from the Italian for little house, a reference to the small private clubs that hosted gaming activities where Italian nobles would gather during a social event known as a ridotti [Source: Schwartz]. Despite their popularity, these venues were not considered legal gambling establishments and were rarely bothered by local authorities.