Casino is a word that evokes images of elegant gambling halls and high-roller VIP treatment. But a casino isn’t just about games of chance; it also offers live entertainment, top-notch hotels and restaurants, non-gambling game rooms and even swimming pools. This article explores the history of casinos, how they make their money and what to expect when you visit one.

Despite their elaborate themes, shopping centers, musical shows and lavish hotels, casinos would not exist without games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and keno provide the billions of dollars in profits that casinos rake in every year.

The first casinos were built in the United States by mafia families who had ample cash from drug dealing and extortion rackets. These mobster investors provided the bankroll for the gambling halls and often became personally involved, taking sole or partial ownership of the casinos. But federal crackdowns and the risk of losing a gaming license at the slightest hint of mob involvement forced many of these mafia operators to sell their casinos to legitimate businessmen.

The casinos have evolved into massive megacasinos that are like indoor amusement parks for adults. In addition to a wide variety of games of chance, they now offer hotels and restaurants, top-notch live entertainment, shops and non-gambling game rooms. Most casinos also have elaborate security systems that can keep track of patrons using facial recognition software and a network of cameras that monitor each table, window and doorway. In addition, the routines of casino games have certain patterns that are easy for security personnel to spot.