A casino is a place to play games of chance. It offers entertainment for the public and profits for its owner. Musical shows, lighted fountains and elaborate hotels all help draw in the crowds, but the vast majority of casinos’ revenue comes from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps provide the billions of dollars that casinos rake in every year.

Gambling was illegal for most of the country’s history, but that did not stop it from happening. Even after it became legal to gamble in Nevada in 1931, the industry struggled to become legitimate. The mob controlled most of the early casinos until real estate investors and hotel chains bought out the mobsters. They saw the potential for huge profits and started their own operations.

To make sure they get as much of the profit as possible, they encourage patrons to spend more money than they intend to. Free drinks and food, reduced-fare transportation and hotel rooms, and discounted show tickets are just a few of the incentives that casinos offer. Casinos also use color and design to manipulate the atmosphere; red, for instance, is a popular choice because it stimulates people and makes them lose track of time.

Security is another priority. Dealers watch over table games with a close eye, looking for blatant cheating like palming or marking cards and dice. Pit bosses and managers monitor larger sections of the floor from behind the scenes, making note of betting patterns that indicate cheating or a lack of interest. Elaborate surveillance systems offer a high-tech “eye in the sky” to enable casino employees to watch every table, window and doorway.