A casino is a facility for certain types of gambling. Some casinos are combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops or other tourist attractions. Casinos can also be found on American Indian reservations, which are exempt from state antigambling laws. There are more than thirty-five legal casinos in the United States, and many more illegal ones. Casinos are often regarded as social centers, and the atmosphere is designed around noise, light, and excitement. Most casinos offer free drinks, and some even have food available.

Gambling has existed as long as people have, and there is evidence of primitive dice games using cut knuckle bones in prehistoric archaeological sites. However, the modern casino as a central gathering place for gambling did not appear until the 16th century. It developed from Italian small clubhouses called ridotti, where socializing was the primary function but gambling took second place, and where gamblers were not bothered by the police.

Something about the presence of large sums of money seems to encourage cheating, stealing and scamming, and casinos spend a great deal of time, effort and money on security. Most security begins on the casino floor, where employees constantly monitor games and patrons for blatant behavior like palming, marking or switching cards and dice. Pit bosses and table managers watch over the tables with a broader view, making sure that patrons are not stealing chips from each other and keeping track of betting patterns.

The security system in a casino can be complex, ranging from cameras that record everything to sophisticated data analysis software. A computer system that tracks the movement of players and dealers enables the casino to keep track of who is winning, who is losing, and where the money is going. This information is used to adjust odds and payouts. The data analysis is performed by mathematicians and statisticians who specialize in gaming.

In the twentieth century, casino gambling spread worldwide as laws changed in Europe and America. By the early twenty-first century, nearly every country had either legalized or permitted casino gambling. Those that did not have laws against it regulated the activity to some extent.

Casinos are most commonly built in urban areas, but can be found in rural locations as well. Some are modeled after European palaces; others, like those in Las Vegas and Macau, are based on Chinese temples or other historical buildings. The architecture and design of a casino can be very elaborate, with a lot of attention to detail.

There are rules and regulations for casino gambling, including minimum age requirements. In addition, some states have prohibited the use of tobacco and alcohol in casinos, while others restrict the hours that they are open. Most casinos are open seven days a week and have many employees. Casinos are a major source of employment in some states. Most of the gambling in a casino is done by machines, but some table games require skill. The largest demographic of casino gamblers in the United States is women over forty, who have more leisure time and spending money than younger adults.