The modern casino is like an indoor amusement park for adults, with the vast majority of its entertainment and profits coming from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, poker, roulette, craps and keno bring in billions of dollars for casinos each year. Casinos provide more than games, though, with top-notch hotels, spas and restaurants among their amenities. They also employ an array of tricks to entice gamblers, from light and noise to the color red, which is thought to cause people to lose track of time.

Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found at many archaeological sites. However, the concept of a casino as a place to find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats would hold private parties at places known as ridotti where gambling was the primary activity and where the legality of the games was often ignored.

In the United States, the first true casino opened in Atlantic City in 1978 and in the 1980s American Indian reservations became gaming destinations that skirted state antigambling laws. As mobsters discovered the profits potential of casinos, they invested heavily in them, taking sole or partial ownership and even attempting to influence the results of games through threats to casino employees. Legitimate businessmen with deep pockets soon realized the mob’s weakness, and they bought out the mobsters to take over control of the casinos.