A casino is a facility that offers a variety of gambling activities. While musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers help lure in customers, casinos would not exist without the billions of dollars in profits generated by games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette and craps are just a few of the many games that provide the thrills that keep people coming back for more.
Gambling probably existed in primitive forms as long as humans have, with carved knuckle bones and dice found at the most ancient archaeological sites. But the modern casino as a place to find a wide range of gaming opportunities under one roof did not develop until the 16th century, during a gambling craze that swept Europe. Rich Italian nobles used to gather in private gaming clubs called ridotti, where they could play a number of different games.
While legitimate businessmen were reluctant to get involved in the gambling industry, organized crime figures had plenty of cash from drug dealing and extortion and saw the potential for huge profits. They financed the growth of Las Vegas and Reno and often took sole or partial ownership of the casinos. As the mobsters controlled the finances of the casinos, they were free to spend money on perks to attract gamblers. These perks included discounted or free travel packages, buffets and show tickets.
Today, casinos are more selective about who they allow to gamble. They focus on high rollers, who spend more than the average patron and generate a lot of revenue. High rollers are given special rooms and personal attention. They are also encouraged to gamble with large sums of money by offering them comps worth thousands of dollars. Elaborate surveillance systems also keep an eye on everyone in the casino, using cameras that can be adjusted to focus on particular suspects.