Gambling in casinos draws in big crowds, with a wide variety of games including poker, blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps. Musical shows and lighted fountains add to the spectacle, but casinos would not exist without the billions in profits raked in each year from games of chance.

The precise origin of casino gambling is a matter of conjecture, but it is clear that casinos have long offered the thrill of chance-driven entertainment. The elegant spa town of Baden-Baden first became a playground for European royalty 150 years ago, and the slick casinos of Las Vegas have long been a magnet for the rich and famous.

Modern casinos are built to be attractive and accessible, with high-tech surveillance systems and lavish accommodations. The rooms are often designed with a unique theme, and the gaming tables are typically arranged in patterns that make it easier for security people to spot cheating and collusion. Some casinos have catwalks that extend over the floor, with personnel looking down on the tables and slot machines through one-way glass.

A recent poll by the Gallup organization found that about 30% of American adults had visited a casino in the previous year. The majority of those who gambled were females over the age of forty-five, from households with above-average incomes. Only 27% of the respondents considered casino gambling acceptable for others, but not for themselves. This percentage was higher among older parents, and had fallen from a high of 38% in 1989.