A casino is an entertainment complex, mostly for adults, where the primary source of income is gambling. Musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers all help to attract visitors, but casinos would not exist without the billions of dollars that are raked in annually by slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and a host of other games of chance.
Gambling in its various forms can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome, Napoleon’s France and Elizabethan England. In modern times it has become a major industry. It is estimated that 24% of American adults visited a casino in 2008.
The casino business was sparked by the fact that many tourists, who went to Las Vegas or Atlantic City, spent enormous sums of money on accommodations and restaurants. Casino owners realized that they could make big profits by combining these attractions with gambling. Nevada became the first state to legalize gambling, but soon others followed suit. Casinos have also appeared on Native American reservations and in other states that do not prohibit gaming.
A casino can be very glamorous, with high-end restaurants and rooms, impressive art collections and breath-taking displays of water, fire or light. But it is also a place where people try to cheat, steal and scam their way to winnings. For this reason casinos spend a great deal of time and money on security. They employ a large staff of people who monitor the gambling area, watch the slots and tables and look for suspicious patrons. Elaborate surveillance systems include an “eye in the sky” system, where cameras mounted on the ceiling can be adjusted to focus on specific areas.