A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of games of chance and is open to the general public. It also features stage shows, dining options and luxurious accommodations. Casinos are found in most countries around the world and attract millions of visitors each year. They make money by charging a vig (vigorish) on bets and taking a cut of the action at poker and other card games.
While gambling in some form probably predates recorded history – primitive protodice, carved knuckle bones and dice are found at many archaeological sites – the modern casino as an entertainment complex did not appear until after the 16th century when a gambling craze took hold in Europe. Monte Carlo opened in 1863 and is still the most famous casino in the world.
The casinos of today employ sophisticated technology to ensure their security. Some use cameras to monitor activity, others monitor the games themselves for any statistical deviations from their expected values, and some even have wholly automated versions of table games like roulette and craps where players bet on symbols that are read by computers. Casinos also reward their big bettors with extravagant inducements ranging from free spectacular entertainment to luxurious living quarters and limo service.
Casinos are a source of income for many cities, and they generate large amounts of tax revenue in addition to their regular profits. In the past, they have also attracted organized crime figures who could use the proceeds to fund other illegal rackets. Mobster money helped finance the expansion of Reno and Las Vegas, and the mob often took a personal interest in the casinos, acquiring sole or partial ownership and influencing game outcomes.