A casino is a place that offers many types of gambling games. It is often a major tourist attraction and is found in or combined with hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and even cruise ships. Although the casinos provide other forms of entertainment such as musical shows and lighted fountains, they would not exist without games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and poker are what bring in the billions of dollars that casinos rake in each year.
While gambling probably predates recorded history, the modern casino as a place to find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century. During that time, the European gambling craze was in full swing and Italian aristocrats gathered in places called ridotti to play their favorite games.
Gambling was still illegal in most of the United States until 1931, when Nevada became the first state to legalize it. Other states eventually followed suit. Today, there are more than 1,000 casinos in the United States, with Las Vegas being the leading city based on revenue.
Casinos use a variety of methods to keep their patrons safe from crime and cheating. Security cameras and staff watch every table, change window and doorway. The cameras can be adjusted to focus on suspicious people and are recorded on tape so that the perpetrators can be tracked down. For this reason, the casino industry is highly regulated. To encourage people to come and play, many casinos offer free or reduced-fare transportation, hotel rooms, drinks and cigarettes while gambling and other inducements.