A casino is a gambling establishment where patrons can gamble in various ways. Most casinos offer table games like blackjack and roulette, and many have slot machines. Some also feature live entertainment and top-notch hotels.
Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. But the casino as an entertainment center featuring a variety of gambling activities did not appear until the 16th century, when European aristocrats would hold private parties called ridotti to gamble in privacy away from prying eyes.
Modern casinos have a variety of security measures in place. Many use cameras to monitor the premises and to prevent cheating. Casino staff also watch patrons and their actions closely to detect suspicious behavior. For example, dealers are trained to spot blatant cheating techniques such as palming, marking or switching cards and dice. And table managers and pit bosses have a broader view of the entire table game area to make sure patrons are not stealing from each other or committing any other type of illegal activity.
In the United States, casinos have become big business. Some 40 states now allow casino gambling, and Las Vegas is the most popular gambling destination in the world. The industry is highly profitable and continues to expand, with new casinos opening in cities as well as on Indian reservations. But the casino industry is also tainted by its association with organized crime. Mafia figures have poured money into casinos, and some have even taken sole or partial ownership.