A casino is a place where people can find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof. Gambling probably predates recorded history, but the casino as a gathering place to do it didn’t develop until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian nobles started holding parties at places called ridotti [Source: Schwartz].

Modern casinos offer many amenities designed to keep people in their doors for longer periods of time, including musical shows, restaurants, free drinks and shops. But the main draw remains the games of chance that give casinos their billions in profits each year. Slot machines, baccarat, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno provide the action that draws in the crowds.

Because so much money changes hands within a casino, security is paramount. Security personnel watch over the games with a view to spot any cheating or other suspicious activity, and the routines of the games themselves help to deter fraud. For instance, the way dealers shuffle and deal cards and where the betting spots are located on the table follow certain patterns that make it easier for security to spot any deviation from them.

The largest casino in the world is the Venetian Macau, which covers a vast area and has more than 2,000 gaming tables. While the casino business is booming, mob involvement has kept it from becoming as widespread as the lottery and horse racing. However, crackdowns by the federal government and the threat of losing a gambling license if even the smallest hint of mob ties is discovered have kept legitimate owners away from the criminal element.