A casino is a gambling establishment offering a variety of games that involve chance and in some cases skill. Most of these games are played on tables and the house typically has a mathematical edge over the players, which is called the house advantage. Some casinos offer a mix of traditional table games, like blackjack and roulette, as well as video poker and slot machines.
Gambling likely existed as early as recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found at the earliest archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. But the casino as we know it developed in the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. Aristocrats would gather in private parties called ridotti to gamble and socialize, even though the activity was technically illegal.
Today, many modern casinos have sophisticated surveillance systems that allow security workers to watch every table, every window and every doorway. They can also watch the video feeds from every single slot machine in a separate room filled with banks of monitors. This eye-in-the-sky technology can spot suspicious patterns that aren’t the usual way a dealer shuffles, deals or places a bet.
While mobsters have always been the backbone of the casino business, legitimate investors are now getting involved. Real estate developers and hotel chains have deep pockets that can help keep mobster money out of the operations. And federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a gaming license at the slightest hint of Mafia involvement mean mob influence isn’t as great as it once was.