A casino is a public place where a variety of gambling games are played. It adds luxuries like restaurants, free drinks and stage shows to help attract customers. It can be a place of intense activity or relative calm, depending on the nature of the casino.

The term “casino” probably comes from the Italian word for little house, and it may refer to the private clubhouses where wealthy Italian noblemen would gather during the gambling craze of the 16th century. These places were known as ridotti, and while they were technically illegal to gamble in, they were rarely visited by the Italian Inquisition.

Modern casinos have many security measures. In addition to a regular physical security force, most casinos have specialized departments that oversee the casino’s closed circuit television system (also called “eye in the sky”). This surveillance technology allows them to monitor all activity inside the casino and quickly detect any statistical deviation from expected results. In some cases the casinos can even watch individual players and their betting chips as they play.

Gambling in a casino is mostly a social activity, where players interact directly with each other or are surrounded by other people as they play a game of chance, such as poker or craps. Most of the games have a built in advantage for the house, which is usually less than two percent. However, these small percentages add up to large sums of money that are used for other purposes in the casino.