A casino, also known as a gaming house, is a place where gambling activities take place. Its most famous example is in Las Vegas, but it also exists in many other places in the United States and internationally. Casinos are often combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops, and other tourist attractions. Some casinos feature live entertainment such as stand-up comedy, concerts, or sports events.
Something about gambling seems to encourage people to cheat and steal, either in collusion or on their own. This is why casinos spend a large amount of time and money on security. Security starts on the casino floor, where employees keep their eyes open for blatant cheating such as palming and marking cards or a dealer switching dice. Pit bosses and table managers have a broader view of the games, watching for betting patterns that could indicate cheating.
While gambling probably existed in primitive forms before recorded history, the modern casino didn’t develop until the 16th century. At that time, a gambling craze in Europe encouraged wealthy Italians to host private parties at their homes called ridotti, where they could play various games of chance and gamble freely. These casinos were not technically legal, but the mob didn’t mind because they had lots of cash from their illegal rackets like extortion and drug dealing. Legitimate businessmen with deep pockets eventually realized the potential profits of casinos and began to invest in them. By the 1980s, casinos were beginning to appear on American Indian reservations as well, where they were not subject to state antigambling laws.