A casino is a place where people gamble money on games of chance. It is like an indoor amusement park for adults and makes billions of dollars in profits for its owners every year. While musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate hotels help draw in the crowds, the casinos would not exist without games of chance. These include slot machines, roulette, blackjack, craps, keno and baccarat. Each of these games has a built in statistical advantage for the house and this is what gives casinos their enormous annual profits.
Gambling has been around for a long time, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological digs. However, the casino as a place to find a variety of gambling activities under one roof did not develop until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. Aristocrats gathered in private gambling clubs called ridotti and although gambling was illegal, the government rarely bothered these clubs.
Today’s casino is technologically advanced and relies heavily on computers to oversee the games. For example, some betting chips have built in microcircuitry that interacts with electronic systems on tables and are monitored minute by minute to discover any statistical deviations. Roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly to find any mechanical problems. Video poker machines and a few table games are wired for computer supervision as well.
The casino business has a dark side as well, and it has always been associated with organized crime figures. Mafia money flowed into Reno and Las Vegas casinos during the 1950s and casinos became a major source of revenue for many criminal enterprises. Some gangsters got so involved in the business that they took sole or partial ownership and exerted their influence over game outcomes.