A casino is a place where a variety of games of chance are played and gambling is the primary activity. While casinos have added luxuries such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows to help attract patrons, they would not exist without the games of chance that bring in billions in profits for the companies, investors, Native American tribes and others who own them.
The games of chance that make up the core of a casino include slot machines, blackjack and various table games such as roulette, craps and keno. Many casinos also have a wide selection of Far Eastern games, such as sic bo (which spread to American casinos in the 1990s), fan-tan and pai gow.
Casinos have long had a seamy reputation, due to their association with organized crime figures. Mob money flowed steadily into casinos in Reno and Las Vegas, where mobsters often became involved personally, took sole or partial ownership of a casino and exerted influence over the outcome of specific games. Federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a gaming license at even the hint of Mafia involvement meant that legitimate businessmen were reluctant to get involved in casinos, and mob money faded from the scene after a while.
Modern casinos use technology to monitor and control their operations. For example, casino chips with microcircuitry enable them to be tracked minute by minute and alerted immediately if a player’s play deviates from the expected statistical average; and roulette wheels are electronically monitored on a regular basis to discover any statistical deviations from their expected results.