A casino is a building where people can gamble and play games of chance. It has become a major tourist attraction for both high-stakes gamblers and those just wanting to experience the thrill of the games. The Bellagio, famous for its dancing fountains and featured in the movie Ocean’s 11, is one of the most recognizable casinos in the world.
The precise origin of gambling is not known, but it appears in nearly every society throughout history, from primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites to modern slot machines and electronic roulette wheels. Casinos first became popular in the 16th century when a gaming craze swept Europe, drawing royalty and aristocracy to places like Baden-Baden to play at games that were technically illegal but rarely bothered by legal authorities.
Casinos use a variety of security measures to ensure fairness and keep their profits up. Casino employees are trained to spot blatant cheating, including palming, marking and switching cards or dice. Table managers and pit bosses also have a broader view of patrons and can spot betting patterns that indicate possible cheating. Some casinos have catwalks in the ceiling that allow surveillance personnel to look directly down through one-way glass on tables and slot machines.
Mob money poured into Reno and Las Vegas in the 1950s, but gangsters weren’t content with providing only the bankroll for these new enterprises; they got involved, taking sole or partial ownership of casinos and often influencing game results by threatening to harm casino employees. Federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a gaming license at even the hint of mafia involvement helped casinos distance themselves from organized crime. Real estate investors and hotel chains began to invest in casinos, buying out the mobsters and bringing them under legitimate business management.