Casino is an entertainment center specializing in games of chance and, in some cases, skill. Slot machines, blackjack, baccarat, roulette, craps and other games make up the billions in profits casinos rake in every year. Casinos are often designed to be like indoor amusement parks for adults, with musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and lavish hotels – but they would not exist without their primary draw: gambling.
Gambling likely predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found at archaeological sites in Europe, but the casino as a place for people to find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century. Until then, wealthy Italian nobles could hold private parties in “ridotti” where they played cards and dice for money. These events were technically illegal, but the aristocrats did not seem to care about attracting attention from authorities.
In the 1950s, as mob figures began to invest in Reno and Las Vegas casinos, legitimate businessmen were hesitant to get involved, given the taint of mafia involvement in gambling. But organized crime was able to provide the funds to keep the casinos operating, and even became personally involved in the businesses. Mobster owners and managers even influenced the outcome of some games by intimidating casino personnel.
Modern casinos employ elaborate surveillance systems. Unlike old-time casinos, where patrons were watched by casino security guards, many have multiple cameras that can be manipulated to focus on specific suspicious patrons or watch any game at any time. Some casinos even use special chips with built-in microcircuitry to track betting activity minute by minute, and electronic monitors that supervise roulette wheels and other games to discover any statistical deviation from expected results.