When you hear the word casino, your mind probably conjures images of glitzy Las Vegas gambling establishments. But the truth is, casinos are found all over the world and in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be a small place where a few tables and slot machines are housed or they can be a massive structure housing many of these games plus restaurants, retail shopping, stage shows, etc.
The etymology of the word casino dates back to Italy, where it originally meant something like a summer villa or a social club. Gambling grew in popularity and casinos started to appear throughout Europe.
Today’s casinos are designed to look and feel like luxury hotels with a high-end touch. Lush carpeting and richly tiled halls set the stage for a gaming experience that is supposed to be fun and exciting. The goal is to keep patrons in the casino for as long as possible by offering them drinks, free spectacular entertainment and other inducements. Combined with an elaborate surveillance system that has cameras on the ceiling and in every window, these systems are designed to catch cheating or other criminal activity.
While legitimate businessmen were wary of getting involved with the tainted image of gambling, mobster money flowed into Reno and Vegas, where casinos began to thrive. Mafia leaders became personally involved in the operations and even took sole or partial ownership of some casinos. They also influenced the outcome of certain games and hired or fired key security personnel.