A casino is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. While casinos often include other entertainment options, such as restaurants, shops and stage shows, gambling is their primary business. Casinos are generally open seven days a week, year-round, and are located in cities and rural areas across America.

While casino luxuries such as lighted fountains, elaborate themes and musical shows may draw in the crowds, they would not exist without games of chance such as slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and video poker. These games provide the billions of dollars in profits that casinos rake in every year.

Gambling has certainly existed long before the establishment of a modern casino, with primitive proto-dice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. But the concept of a central venue for various gambling activities did not emerge until the 16th century, when Italian aristocrats held parties at venues called ridotti.

As the popularity of casinos grew in the United States during the 1950s, mafia figures became involved in the businesses. They provided bankrolls, took sole or partial ownership of some casinos, and even influenced the outcomes of games. These machinations, coupled with the seamy image of casinos, led to some states adopting anti-gambling laws. But the mobsters did not let this deter them, and the casino industry boomed. Today, casinos are ubiquitous throughout the world.