A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of games of chance. It may also offer other forms of entertainment such as stage shows and dramatic scenery. Gambling is often considered to be the oldest recreational activity known to man, dating back millennia. The earliest evidence of gambling was found in China (2300 BC), with dice appearing shortly thereafter and playing cards by 800 AD. Casinos grew into widespread popularity in Europe during the second half of the 19th century after changes to laws made it legal to operate them.

A modern casino is a high-energy environment that uses a lot of different tricks to draw in gamblers. Many have bright, sometimes gaudy floor and wall coverings that are designed to stimulate the sense of sight and the ears (the noises of slot machines are electronically tuned to the musical key of C). Because human beings are naturally attracted to bright lights, casinos use thousands of miles of neon tubing to light their gaming floors.

Casinos have become increasingly sophisticated in their use of technology to control the game. In a practice known as chip tracking, for instance, the chips used to bet are wired to electronic systems that enable casinos to oversee exactly how much money is wagered minute by minute, and to quickly detect statistical deviations from expected results.

Casinos are also infamous for their lavish inducements to big bettors. In addition to free rooms, shows and meals, they offer reduced-fare transportation and luxury living quarters to encourage players to spend more money. These rewards are known as comps.