What is a Casino?

Casino is a public place where a variety of games of chance can be played. Its most common games include poker, blackjack, craps, roulette and baccarat. Its patrons may be tempted to cheat or steal, especially when large amounts of money are involved, but casinos have security measures in place to deter such behavior. These often include surveillance cameras in high-traffic areas, and in some cases, the use of trained personnel to watch over patrons. Some casinos also have catwalks suspended above the casino floor, which allow surveillance personnel to look directly down on tables and slot machines through one-way mirrors.

In addition to the games of chance, casinos offer food and drinks for their patrons. They usually have stage shows, dramatic scenery and other entertainment attractions. They are often located in cities and resorts, although some rural communities have casinos as well. Casinos generate billions of dollars each year for the companies, investors, and Native American tribes that operate them. They may be found in a wide range of sizes and locations, from massive resorts to small card rooms.

Gambling probably predates written history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided bones being discovered at archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. But the first casino as we know it developed in the 16th century, during a gambling craze that swept Europe. Italian aristocrats would meet in private clubs called ridotti to gamble and socialize. The mobsters who controlled Reno and Las Vegas casinos in the 1950s were able to control the business by lending mob money and taking sole or partial ownership of many casinos. But federal crackdowns on mob involvement in casinos, as well as the risk of losing a gaming license at the slightest hint of criminal activity, forced the mob to withdraw from the industry.

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