A casino is a place where people can play games of chance or skill. It’s a major form of entertainment in many countries, and it contributes billions to the economy every year. Casinos add extras like musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers to make them more interesting to visit, but the main business is gambling. Table games like blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps, plus video poker and slot machines provide the huge profits that give casinos enough money to build hotels, fountains, towers and replicas of famous landmarks.

A few decades ago, it was hard to find a casino that didn’t have an organized crime presence. Mobster funds poured into Reno and Las Vegas, and mobster-linked businessmen took sole or partial ownership of some casinos. Legitimate businessmen were reluctant to get involved because of the taint associated with gambling, which was still illegal in most states at the time.

In addition to offering a variety of games, a casino also focuses on customer service. It provides complimentary items to big spenders, called “comps.” These perks include free meals and drinks, room service, discounted or free show tickets and even limo services and airline tickets.

Because of the slim margins on most games, security is an important aspect of casino operation. The floor is constantly monitored by surveillance cameras, and each table has its own pit boss who oversees the dealers. Money brought into the casino is counted and bundled in secure rooms where it awaits transportation to an armored car for deposit. Observing the patterns of how players behave, it is relatively easy for security to spot cheating or theft.

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