A casino is a building where people can gamble and play games of chance. While musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and hotels add to the appeal of casinos, gambling is what drives them and generates the billions of dollars in profits they pull in each year. Most casinos are filled with card and table games like poker, blackjack, roulette and craps. There are also a number of slot machines and video poker games.

Although something about gambling encourages cheating, stealing and scamming, most casinos take steps to prevent such behavior. Security starts on the casino floor, where dealers keep their eyes peeled for blatant cheating and watch out for betting patterns that might signal a cheat. Other employees have a more sweeping view of the action, including keeping an eye out for people who try to switch cards or dice. Casinos also use cameras and special mirrors to monitor their patrons’ actions.

In the early twentieth century, gangsters controlled many casinos. But as real estate investors and hotel chains got into the business, they started buying out the mobster-controlled casinos. Federal crackdowns on mafia involvement and the threat of losing a casino’s license at even the slightest hint of mob activity helped the legitimate businessmen take over the casinos. Today, some of the most popular casinos are located in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, with others spread out around the country and world. In addition to gaming, some of the larger casinos feature hotels, restaurants, non-gambling game rooms, bars and swimming pools.