A casino is a building that houses games of chance. It might add a few other amenities to draw in gamblers (musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and lavish hotels), but it would not exist without games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette and other gambling games provide the billions in profits that casinos rake in every year.
Gambling has been part of human culture since ancient times. Some forms of it were even legalized by governments in Europe and America before the turn of the 20th century. Today, casinos are found all over the world. Some are elegant, old-world spas with a few table games scattered around the lobby; others are modern, glass-and-steel temples to overindulgence.
Something about the nature of casinos seems to encourage people to cheat, steal and scam in order to win money. As a result, casinos devote a significant amount of time and money to security.
Casino security is divided between a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department. The former patrols the casino and responds to calls for assistance or to reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity; the latter monitors closed circuit television. Casinos also use electronic technology to monitor their own games: chips with built-in microcircuitry interact with computer systems in slots to enable the casinos to oversee the exact amounts wagered minute by minute; and roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly to discover any statistical deviations from expected results.
Although the mobsters of Reno and Las Vegas supplied much of the initial capital for the first Nevada casinos, legitimate businessmen were reluctant to invest in a business with such a seamy image. In fact, some mobsters became personally involved in the management of casinos and even took sole or partial ownership of them.