A casino is a building that houses gambling games. It may also contain restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. Casinos are most common in Nevada, but they exist worldwide. They are regulated by state laws. The games offered in a casino are generally based on chance, but some have an element of skill. These include poker, blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and craps. Some casinos also offer exotic games, such as sic bo and keno. In addition to a variety of games, casino owners use many tricks to attract gamblers and keep them coming back. For example, they use bright and sometimes gaudy floor and wall coverings that are stimulating and cheering. They play music that is electronically tuned to the key of C, and they use bells and whistles. More than 15,000 miles (24,100 km) of neon tubing illuminates the casinos along the Las Vegas Strip.
The word casino was probably derived from Italian for “little house” or “private clubhouse.” Although gambling likely predates recorded history, the casino as a place to find a wide variety of ways to gamble under one roof developed in the 16th century during a gambling craze that swept Europe. Rich aristocrats used small private clubs called ridotti to hold social parties and gamble, even though these facilities were technically illegal [Source: Schwartz].
Gambling has always been a popular entertainment, but the popularity of the modern casino was spurred by legalized gambling in Nevada and later in Atlantic City. In the late 20th century, organized crime groups began to take control of casinos in Nevada and other states because they provided a large source of income from illegal rackets such as gambling, drugs and extortion. Some mobsters became personally involved and took sole or partial ownership of some casinos.