A casino is a place where gambling takes place and people gather to enjoy various games of chance. The modern casino is much more than that, offering a variety of restaurants, free drinks and stage shows in addition to gambling, but the basic structure hasn’t changed all that much since its origins in Italy. [Source: Corpora]

Despite the elaborate hotels, lighted fountains and themed shops, casinos make their money from games of chance such as slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and baccarat. These games have mathematically determined odds that give the house a built in advantage, which is usually no more than two percent (this is also called the “house edge”). Casinos take in billions of dollars a year from these bets.

Something about the presence of large amounts of money seems to encourage both patrons and staff to cheat or steal. For this reason, casinos spend a lot of time and money on security. Surveillance cameras are located throughout the building and can be focused on particular suspicious patrons by personnel in a separate room filled with banks of security monitors. Casinos also use other technological measures, such as electronic systems that monitor betting chips and roulette wheels to catch any statistical deviation from their expected outcome.

A few years ago, a casino might have been run by mobsters and mob families, but federal crackdowns on the Mafia and the deep pockets of real estate investors and hotel chains have kept mobsters out of the casino business. Nonetheless, some economists say that the damage caused by compulsive gambling can offset any economic benefit a casino might bring to its community.