A casino is a place where people can gamble. Unlike traditional gambling halls, a casino is usually not owned by a single person or company, but instead is run by an independent operator. Many casinos also offer dining, entertainment and other amenities to attract patrons. Casinos are primarily found in the United States and Canada, but are also located internationally.
Traditionally, casinos have been run by organized crime figures. Mafia families used their wealth from drug dealing, extortion and other illegal rackets to finance casinos in Reno and Las Vegas in the 1950s and 1960s. They built luxurious facilities that aimed to maximize gambling revenue, but the mob’s seamy image caused them to lose favor with the public. Legitimate businessmen such as hotel chains and real estate investors saw that they could make a lot of money with casinos, so they bought out the mafiosi and took over.
Today’s casinos are a little more selective about who they allow to gamble, and they focus their marketing efforts on wealthy “high rollers” who spend tens of thousands of dollars a day. These customers often receive extravagant inducements, including free spectacular entertainment and luxury living quarters.
Most casinos use security measures to prevent cheating and stealing, either in collusion with employees or independently. The most visible measure is the use of surveillance cameras throughout the building. Many casinos also have catwalks above the gaming floors, which allow security personnel to look down on patrons from one-way glass windows. In addition, most casinos require players to sign a gambling contract that prohibits them from spending more than they can afford to lose.