Whether they spin the roulette wheel, pull a lever on a slot machine or put their best poker face forward at the table, casino goers seek to satisfy a gambling itch. These public places offer a variety of games of chance and sometimes skill, as well as restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery. Some are massive resorts, while others are small card rooms on the edge of town. In addition to their patrons, casinos reap billions each year from investors, corporations and Native American tribes, as well as state and local governments that collect taxes or fees.
Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in archaeological sites. But the concept of a place where people could find all manner of gambling activities under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century, when gambling crazes swept Europe and Italian aristocrats would hold private parties at their homes called ridotti. These were technically illegal, but the mobsters who funded them had plenty of cash from drug dealing and extortion, and were not bothered by gambling’s seamy reputation.
Modern casinos usually have a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department. Surveillance cameras watch over all activity, and electronic systems monitor the placement of chips in betting areas on casino tables to spot any statistical deviations from expected results. Some casinos even use computer algorithms to predict the next winning combination on a slot machine, but these are not foolproof.