A casino is a gambling establishment where people can gamble, most often on games of chance. Musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and lavish hotels all draw in the crowds, but casinos wouldn’t exist without games of chance that earn the establishment billions in profits each year. Slot machines, blackjack, poker, roulette and craps provide the thrills that lead to big winnings.

Every game a casino offers has a built in advantage for the house, which can be small but adds up over millions of bets to give the casinos their enormous gross profits. As a result, it is extremely rare for a casino to lose money on a single day. To compensate for this, casinos offer their bigger bettors extravagant inducements like free spectacular entertainment and limo service, hotel rooms and airfare.

Security in a casino begins on the floor of the gaming area, where pit bosses and managers watch over the tables and players to spot any blatant cheating or marking of cards or dice. More sophisticated technology has been incorporated into the games themselves, too. Roulette wheels are electronically monitored minute by minute to discover statistical deviations; and some slot machines now use on-board computer chips that can be tracked to detect any cheating.

Gambling has always had a seedy side, and the first modern casinos didn’t escape the taint of organized crime. In the 1950s, mobster money flowed steadily into Las Vegas and Reno, where owners were desperate to attract American tourists. The mobsters weren’t just providing the bankroll; they got personally involved, taking sole or part ownership of casinos and directing operations.