A casino is a place where gambling activities take place, primarily using games of chance. While stage shows, free drinks, gourmet restaurants and dramatic scenery help draw in patrons, casinos would not exist without the billions of dollars that people wager on games like slots, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno.
While the precise origin of casino gambling is not known, it can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia, Rome, Greece and Elizabethan England. Throughout history, casino games have been popular entertainment, both as an amusement and as a way to raise money.
The casino industry’s development was hindered for decades by its illegal status in most states, which made it difficult to attract capital. But when organized crime figures began providing large sums of cash to Reno and Las Vegas in the 1950s, they created a casino culture that was more like an urban carnival than a legitimate business. Mafia-controlled casinos became infamous for their seamy image and mob involvement in the management and operation of the facilities.
Modern casinos are designed to be as secure as possible, with many utilizing high-tech surveillance systems. Video cameras are installed everywhere, from the ceiling to individual table windows and doorways. The “eye-in-the-sky” systems allow security workers to monitor all activity and see the faces of patrons to watch for a suspicious look or to spot any cheating, including palming or marking cards. In addition, electronic devices such as chip tracking (electronic sensors that monitor the amounts bet minute-by-minute) and roulette wheels are electronically monitored to discover any statistical deviation from expected results.