A casino, also known as a gambling house or a gaming room, is an establishment where people can play a variety of games of chance for money or other prizes. Some casinos specialize in one or more types of gambling, such as poker, blackjack or roulette. Others have a wide range of games and offer the full spectrum of gambling options. Some are attached to hotels, resorts or cruise ships. Many state governments regulate and tax casinos.
The precise origin of gambling is difficult to pinpoint, but it has long been an important part of human culture. The earliest known dice games date from ancient Mesopotamia, and carved six-sided die have been found in Egyptian tombs. A more formalized form of gambling, however, did not emerge until the 16th century when Europeans in a gaming craze began frequenting clubs called ridotti.
Because of the large amounts of money involved, a casino can be a tempting target for theft and fraud. In addition to employing security staff, most casinos use sophisticated cameras to monitor activities and deter crime. Casinos are also subject to bribery and corruption, both in collusion with patrons and independently by employees.
The popularity of casino gambling grew in the United States during the 1980s and ’90s, when many American states liberalized their laws on the activity. Currently, 40 states have some form of legalized casino gambling. Most of these are concentrated in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, but there are also casinos on Native American reservations and in some other countries.