Whether it’s the thrill of Las Vegas or the glamour of Monaco, casinos offer high-rollers a chance to roll the dice, spin the reels and party with friends. But a casino is more than just a gambling hall: it’s a place to enjoy top-notch entertainment, luxury hotels and restaurants, spas, and even golf courses.

The word casino is derived from the Italian Casin, meaning “little house.” The first casino was a small clubhouse for elite Italian socialites who would meet to gamble and enjoy themselves. As the idea caught on, these establishments expanded. Today, some of the largest casinos in the world are found in places like Thackerville, Oklahoma and Rustenburg, South Africa.

Casinos earn their money by collecting a percentage of each bet placed by patrons. This is often referred to as the house edge. While the advantage may be slight (less than two percent), it can add up to huge profits over the millions of bets made by casino patrons. These profits allow casinos to build elaborate hotels, fountains, and replicas of famous pyramids and towers.

Because of the enormous amounts of cash handled in casinos, security is a major concern. Staff members constantly watch patrons for signs of cheating or stealing, and they use video cameras to monitor the gaming floors. Those cameras can zoom in on the faces of players, and can also detect suspicious betting patterns. In addition, casino computers monitor roulette wheels and slot machines minute-by-minute for statistical deviations from their expected values.