A casino (or gambling house) is an establishment offering certain types of gambling. Casinos are usually located near or combined with hotels, restaurants, shopping, cruise ships or other tourist attractions. Most casinos offer slot machines and various table games. Some also have poker rooms and other live entertainment.
The precise origin of casino gambling is unknown, but it is widely believed that it evolved from gambling houses in ancient Egypt, Babylonia, Persia and other places. Modern casinos are heavily regulated and most operate under license from a government agency. Casinos must meet strict requirements for safety, security and game fairness.
Because of the large amount of money handled within a casino, both patrons and employees may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently; thus most casinos have extensive security measures. Floor supervisors keep an eye on the games and the players, observing for blatant violations of rules and looking for suspicious betting patterns. Table managers and pit bosses have a more expansive view of the tables, making sure that players do not “mark” or “switch” cards or dice.
Historically, organized crime figures controlled many casinos because they provided the funds to finance expansion and renovation. However, the mob’s involvement often created a taint of scandal that deterred legitimate businessmen from investing in the industry. Real estate investors and hotel chains with deep pockets eventually bought out the mobsters and began running their casinos without mob interference. Federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a license at even the slightest whiff of Mafia involvement ensure that mobster-run casinos remain rare.