A casino, or gaming hall, is a place where gamblers can try their luck at various games of chance. It also contains entertainment venues such as bars, restaurants and shows. Modern casinos are regulated by state laws and have very strict security measures. Security personnel are usually divided into a physical force and a specialized department that monitors closed-circuit television. The latter is an integral part of a casino’s surveillance system and it allows security personnel to see what is going on at the tables even when players are wearing sunglasses or hats.
While gambling probably began much earlier, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found at archaeological sites, the casino as an establishment where people could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century. It developed as a result of the popularity of the gambling craze, which swept Europe. Italian aristocrats especially loved to gamble, but in a private setting called a ridotto, where they were free from any government scrutiny.
Today, casinos are almost universally found in cities and resorts and have an enormous variety of games of chance. Tables feature baccarat (in the popular variant known as chemin de fer) and blackjack, while card games such as poker (a staple of American casinos) and trente et quarante are offered. Many casinos also offer traditional Far Eastern games such as sic bo, fan-tan and pai gow.