A casino is a place where a variety of gambling games are played. The word is believed to be derived from the Italian cazino, meaning “little house.” It is thought that casinos have been in existence in some form since ancient times. Today, the modern casino is like an indoor amusement park for adults. It offers musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers as well as gambling. Gambling is the major source of revenue for a casino, and the most popular games include poker, blackjack, roulette, craps and baccarat.
The history of the casino industry is intertwined with that of organized crime. Until the 1950s, casinos were almost exclusively run by organized crime groups. Mafia members had oodles of cash from drug dealing, extortion and other illegal rackets and didn’t mind the seamy image of gambling. They provided the bankroll for many Reno and Las Vegas casinos, became involved in management and took sole or partial ownership. They also influenced the results of some games by threatening employees.
As casinos have become more sophisticated and expensive, they have moved away from their mob roots and are now largely owned by real estate investors and hotel chains. These owners aren’t afraid of the mafia’s seamy reputation and can afford to keep it far away from their gambling cash cows. In addition, technology has greatly enhanced the casino experience. For example, betting chips with built-in microcircuitry enable casinos to monitor the amount wagered minute by minute and quickly discover any statistical deviation from expected outcomes.