A casino is a place where people gamble by playing games of chance, or skill (like poker and blackjack). Slot machines and table games are the primary source of the billions in profits that casinos rake in each year. Casinos are massive complexes replete with elaborate decoration, non-gambling entertainment and food. In the United States, Las Vegas is the undisputed leader of the industry and offers the most diverse selection of gambling options.
While lighted fountains, musical shows and shopping centers help draw in customers, casinos would not exist without games of chance. These games, including slot machines, roulette, craps, baccarat and blackjack, offer the billions in annual profits that keep casinos afloat.
The word casino comes from the Italian city of Venice, which opened the world’s first government-sanctioned gambling house in 1638. This was the Ridotto, a four-story building that included various rooms for primitive card games and offered a variety of foods to keep gamblers happy. The concept of the casino spread throughout Europe, and by the 1980s many American states had changed their antigambling laws to allow for them.
During the 1990s, technology dramatically increased the security of casinos. Casinos now use video cameras to monitor the activities of customers, employees and patrons, and they have systems that can track betting patterns, reveal any tampering or cheating and alert security personnel immediately. They also use catwalks that allow security personnel to look down, through one way glass, on the activity at tables and slots.