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What is a Casino?

A casino is a place to gamble. Its patrons pay to play games of chance, such as roulette or blackjack, and earn free hotel rooms, meals and shows if they spend a certain amount of time gambling. Casinos also pay players for winning at slot machines and other games. This is called comping. Casinos usually have a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department that monitors the casino’s closed circuit television system, sometimes known as the eye in the sky.

Gambling was illegal throughout much of the United States until the late 1940s. Even after gambling was legalized in Nevada, casinos were difficult to start outside the state and they took years to spread across the country. Mob money provided the capital to establish them, but the mafia had its own problems with gambling’s seamy image and often imposed their own rules on casino operations.

Today, casinos are choosier about who they accept as gamblers. They concentrate their investments on high rollers, who gamble in special rooms that are often separate from the main casino floor and whose bets can be worth tens of thousands of dollars. High rollers are rewarded with expensive perks, such as free hotel rooms and dinners, tickets to shows, limo service and airline tickets. The perks are designed to encourage gamblers to spend more money and to reward those who do. They are also intended to discourage people who try to cheat or steal money.