Casinos (commonly referred to as gambling houses) are buildings or rooms where people can gamble for money at various forms of games of chance such as poker, blackjack, craps and roulette. Entertainment features like stage shows or dramatic scenery may also be featured at casinos worldwide – with most located within the United States. They generate billions each year in revenue for investors, companies and even local governments that collect gambling taxes and fees from these enterprises.
Gambling has long been a favorite pastime across most societies. While its precise origin remains uncertain, most scholars agree it originated somewhere around ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece. By medieval Europe it became widespread among the kingdoms and principalities of Holy Roman Empire. By the second half of 19th century commercial casinos had emerged; unlike earlier ones that offered only games of chance; modern ones use amenities to attract patrons for longer sessions of gambling; this has resulted in restaurants, free drinks and other amenities becoming standard features at modern casinos worldwide.
U.S. casinos are most widely known for being found in Las Vegas and Atlantic City; however, additional casinos have begun popping up throughout cities and states across the nation, including Native American reservations and cruise ships with casino-type machines.
Casino gaming was long dominated by organized crime figures until the early 1990s, when legitimate businesspeople such as large hotel and real estate developers invested in it legitimately. At that point, newcomers with deep pockets began making huge bets that lured high rollers away from mob-run establishments; still some mob figures maintained an influence over gaming activity by trying to influence individual game outcomes.
Due to the amount of money exchanged at casinos, both patrons and employees may be tempted to cheat or steal in collusion or individually. To combat this risk, modern casinos utilize various security measures. They consist of both physical security forces and surveillance departments that utilize cameras with one way glass on the casino floor and catwalks above gaming tables for surveillance. These camera systems can monitor movements into and out of the casino as well as record video of individual tables for review by surveillance personnel looking for any signs of impropriety or criminal activity. This has reduced incidents of cheating or theft at casinos, yet remains a challenge in some. Furthermore, some gamblers have become addicted to gambling – this behavior detracts from overall profitability of casinos, an issue many are trying to combat with programs and incentives intended to combat addiction to gambling.