A casino, or gaming house, is an establishment for gambling. Its modern equivalent is the Las Vegas Strip, where bright lights, theatrical shows and elaborate hotels draw visitors and gamblers. Games of chance, such as slot machines, roulette, craps, blackjack and video poker, provide the billions in profits that casinos bring in every year.

Casinos employ various strategies to attract customers, including the use of a variety of games and themes to appeal to different tastes. They also offer complimentary items, or comps, to players, and the amount of money they pay for their bets is known as their “stake.”

Security is a key concern at casino facilities. Staff watch over patrons to spot cheating, such as palming or marking cards or dice. Dealers are highly focused on their own game and can quickly notice any erratic behavior, while pit bosses and table managers have a broader view of the games and can spot any unusual betting patterns.

Though gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, the casino as a central location for multiple games did not develop until the 16th century. This was the result of a combination of factors, including a gambling craze sweeping Europe and the ability to legally hold parties at private clubs called ridotti. Mafia money brought casinos to life in Nevada in the 1950s, and mobster owners poured their profits into expansion and renovation in hopes of drawing even more Americans to their seamy operations. Legitimate businessmen soon saw the potential, and hotel and real estate companies purchased many of the mobsters’ casinos to avoid mob interference.