A casino, also referred to as a gaming establishment or a gambling hall, is a place for certain types of gambling. These include card games, dice, roulette and slot machines, which bring in the majority of the billions of dollars that casinos rake in each year. Casinos are located in a variety of locations including Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Chicago.
Casinos are primarily designed to maximize profits for the owners through a combination of strategies. Free food and drinks can keep gamblers on the premises and even intoxicated, which reduces their concern about how much money they are losing. The use of chips instead of cash also makes it less likely that gamblers will be tempted to cheat, either in collusion or independently. Elaborate surveillance systems allow security personnel to watch every table, window and doorway at a glance.
The word “casino” probably comes from the Italian ridotti, small private clubs where Italian aristocrats socialized and gambled during the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Although the venues were technically illegal, they were rarely bothered by authorities. In the United States legal casinos were first introduced in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Las Vegas, Nevada, as well as on various American Indian reservations that are exempt from state antigambling laws.
The mafia controlled many of these early casinos, and mobsters provided the money that made them profitable. However, federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a gambling license at even the slightest hint of mob involvement eventually drove gangsters out of the business. Large real estate developers and hotel chains now own many of the world’s casinos.