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A casino is a facility where people can play games of chance or skill. Most casinos offer slot machines, table games like blackjack and craps, and video poker. Many also have restaurants, bars and stage shows. Casinos can be large or small, and they usually have a distinctive architecture.

The precise origin of gambling is unknown, but it has long been a part of human culture. Ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, and Elizabethan England all had forms of entertainment based on games of chance or skill. Modern casinos evolved from these earlier establishments, with the first purely gambling houses opening in the mid-19th century. By the second half of the 20th century, almost all nations had legalized some form of casino gambling.

In the United States, casinos are licensed by state governments and operated by private companies. Most states require responsible gambling programs as a condition of licensing. In addition, most state laws include provisions for self-exclusion. Many states also have age restrictions for players. The minimum legal age for casino gambling varies by state and type of game.

Security in a casino starts on the floor, where employees keep their eyes on patrons and games. Dealers are trained to spot blatant cheating like palming or marking cards or dice. Pit bosses and table managers watch over tables with a wider view, making sure patrons don’t cheat or steal. The routines of different games also make it easier for security to see when something is amiss.

Some casino security staff focus on preventing physical violence. They may be armed, but they’re also trained to deescalate conflicts between patrons and even to intervene in sexual encounters. Aside from physical security, most casinos have electronic surveillance. With so much money changing hands, the possibility of robbery or theft is always present. Some patrons and staff members may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently.

Other security measures include cameras throughout the facility, strict dress codes and guest checks. In the past, mobster money flowed into Nevada casinos, but it was difficult for legitimate businessmen to get involved with a tainted industry. However, real estate investors and hotel chains with deep pockets realized they could control the market. By assuming sole or partial ownership of casinos, they could avoid mob interference and retain their gaming licenses. Mob involvement in Las Vegas and Reno diminished over time, as federal crackdowns made it risky for mafia members to run their own casinos. The mob also had trouble raising enough capital to finance the massive construction projects that were needed for a Las Vegas era boom.