A casino is a place where various games of chance are played and gambling is the primary activity. It may add a host of other amenities to help attract patrons, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. However, casinos could be much less elaborate and still be called casinos.
Gambling has been around for as long as humans have, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in the most ancient archaeological sites. But the casino as a place where people could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century. Venice was the birthplace of this new type of establishment, which was known as a ridotto. These were private gambling houses that aristocrats used for a variety of high stakes card and dice games, often while consuming copious amounts of food and drink. Although technically illegal, these places weren’t bothered by legal authorities and the aristocracy made a lot of money from them.
Modern casinos have a whole host of security measures to make sure that the games are fair. Besides the obvious – watching for blatant cheating like palming and marking cards – the employees have to watch over the games for patterns that indicate that the game has been compromised. This is why windows and clocks are rarely seen in casinos.
During the mob’s heyday in Reno and Las Vegas, many legitimate businessmen shied away from casinos because of their taint of “vice.” But mafia leaders had plenty of cash and were eager to take over casinos. Real estate investors and hotel chains soon realized that they could make a lot of money from casinos, so they bought out the mobsters and now run their own establishments without mob interference.