A casino is a large gambling hall where people can play games of chance for money. The games played in casinos are slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat, and poker. The profits from these games provide the billions in revenue that casinos rake in every year. While musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and lavish hotels help draw people in, it is the gambling that makes them profitable.
The origins of casinos are not fully understood. However, it is generally believed that they began in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome and medieval Europe. Modern casinos began to appear in the United States during the 1980s when state laws changed to allow them. During this time, casinos also started to appear on American Indian reservations that were not subject to federal antigambling laws.
As the casino business grew, mob figures began to invest their own cash in them. These investors often became part owners of the casinos and were known to influence game outcomes and take steps to conceal their activities. Mob involvement was a major reason why the legalization of casino gambling was opposed by many politicians and civic leaders.
Today, there are over 1,000 casinos around the world. Some of them are very large, with several thousand slots and table games. The Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, for example, has over 364,000 square feet of gaming space. While this is smaller than some of the other casinos on our list, it is still huge. The casino uses a sophisticated surveillance system with cameras in the ceiling that can be aimed at any table, window or doorway. This “eye in the sky” allows security personnel to watch any suspicious patrons.