What Is a Casino?

A casino is a building that offers games of chance to its visitors. They may also offer other entertainment such as restaurants, shopping areas and entertainment shows. This type of establishment has been a part of human culture for millennia. Evidence of dice-playing dates back to 2300 BC, while card games appeared in Europe by the 1400s. Modern casinos have become increasingly elaborate in their structures and amenities. Today they can be found in Las Vegas, Macau and even London.

While musical shows, lighted fountains and lavish hotels draw in the crowds, casinos would not exist without games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, poker, roulette and other popular games of chance are the basis for the billions in profits raked in by casinos every year.

There is a darker side to the casino business, as well. In the early days of the casino industry, mob money flowed into Reno and Las Vegas. Mafia members took sole or partial ownership of casinos and controlled their operations through intimidation, extortion and violence against employees.

Modern casinos use a combination of physical security forces and specialized surveillance departments to ensure the safety of patrons and assets. They also employ rules and regulations to discourage criminal activity. In addition to the traditional methods, technological advances have helped casino security to evolve. For example, casino chips have been wired to allow the casinos to monitor the exact amount wagered on each game minute by minute, and roulette wheels are electronically monitored to quickly discover any statistical deviations from their expected results.