A casino is a gambling establishment that offers the public a variety of games of chance and the opportunity to win money. Modern casinos often offer a full range of amenities that are intended to appeal to the senses and emotions of the gambler. Some of these amenities include restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery. But no matter how lavish a casino may be, it would not exist without the games that are played there.

Gambling has been popular in nearly every culture throughout history. The precise origin is unknown, but records of the activity can be found in ancient Mesopotamia, Rome and Elizabethan England. In modern times, most countries have legalized gambling, and casinos have become a major source of revenue for some states and cities.

In the United States, Las Vegas is by far the largest casino center and ranks second in revenue nationally behind Atlantic City. Many other cities, including Denver and Boston, have large numbers of casinos. Some casinos are owned by organized crime figures, who use them as fronts for their illegal activities. These mafia-run casinos often have the seamy image associated with crime and are not always a good choice for legitimate businessmen.

Because of the large amounts of cash handled within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to steal, either in collusion or independently. To prevent this, most casinos employ several security measures. These include a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department that operates closed circuit television (CCTV) systems. The casino’s security departments also work closely with local police forces to prevent crime.