A casino is a place where gamblers try their luck at games of chance like baccarat, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno. These games provide the billions of dollars that casinos rake in each year. Despite the glitz and glamour, casinos are serious businesses that offer real odds of winning (and losing) money.
The word casino may have been derived from the Spanish term for “smoky room.” While gambling probably predates written history, primitive protodice and carved knuckle bones have been found in archaeological digs. But the casino as a place where people can find all manner of gambling activities under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century. Until then, gambling was done in small private clubs known as ridotti and at public venues such as the opera or church.
During the casino boom in the 1950s, organized crime figures were ready and willing to put up money to finance casino expansion and renovation. They had plenty of cash from extortion, drug dealing and other illegal rackets and didn’t mind gambling’s seamy image. They became so involved with casinos that they sometimes took sole or partial ownership, manipulated the results of some games and threatened staffers.
Given the large amount of money that is handled within a casino, both patrons and employees are likely to be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. That is why most casinos spend a lot of time and money on security measures.