A casino is a gambling establishment where people can play games like blackjack, poker, roulette and craps. Casinos are often combined with hotels, restaurants and other entertainment venues. They are a favorite destination for vacationers and business travelers.
While music shows, shopping centers and lighted fountains add to the excitement of a casino, they could not exist without gambling. Slot machines, baccarat, roulette and other games of chance provide the billions in profits that casinos rake in every year.
The first government-sanctioned casino, the Ridotto, opened in Venice in 1638. It was a four-story gambling house with rooms for primitive card games and food for the patrons. It is considered the birthplace of modern casinos, although many other European cities had public gaming houses before the Ridotto.
As the popularity of gambling grew, casinos became more sophisticated. By the 1950s, Las Vegas and Reno were drawing millions of Americans to their casinos. Mob figures had enough cash from their drug dealing and extortion businesses to invest in the growing industry. They took sole or partial ownership of casinos and controlled much of their operations. Federal crackdowns on organized crime eventually forced the mobsters out of the casinos, but they left behind their reputation for illegal activities and corruption.
Today, casinos have evolved into entertainment destinations for all ages. They are a combination of gaming facilities with restaurants, hotels and performance venues that feature pop, rock and jazz artists. They are designed to appeal to the broadest possible audience and to make sure that they can offer something for everyone, even if it is not gambling.