A casino is a place where people can gamble on games of chance. It can include card games, dice games, dominoes, and even slot machines. Many casinos also offer food, drinks, and stage shows. People who gamble in casinos often receive comps, which are free or discounted food, drinks, and show tickets. Casinos are often designed to be loud, bright, and exciting. They often have windows and clocks hidden, which allows patrons to gamble for hours without realizing how much time has passed or how much money they have lost.
The precise history of gambling is not known, but it almost certainly predates recorded history. Primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice have been found in ancient archaeological sites. The modern casino, however, did not develop until the 16th century. At that time, a gambling craze swept Europe, and wealthy Italians held social gatherings at private clubs called ridotti [Source: Schwartz]. These were technically illegal, but the aristocrats who frequented them rarely faced legal action.
Most modern casino gambling takes place in places that are licensed by government agencies. Although they vary in design and operations, most are based on a similar model: patrons pay an entrance fee to enter, and then they can gamble for money or for points that can be exchanged for meals, drinks, or merchandise. The most popular casino game is probably the slot machine, which involves inserting coins or paper tickets with barcodes into machines that display bands of colored shapes rolling on reels. If the right pattern appears, the player wins a predetermined amount of money.