Whether you like to hit the slots, test your poker face at a table game or toss dice on the craps floor, casinos are the best places to satisfy your gambling itch. The thrill of the games and the excitement of winning or losing money provides an experience that’s unmatched by any other form of entertainment. And most casinos have more than just gaming facilities—they’re also home to top dining and drink spots, hotels, spas and live entertainment.

In the 1950s, when casinos were expanding in Nevada, mobster money flowed into Vegas and brought with it a reputation that would not go away. Legitimate businessmen were reluctant to get involved, so organized crime figures took over as sole or partial owners and began using their mob clout to influence the results of certain games. They also used their funds to buy out the debts of struggling casinos.

Security is a huge concern at casinos. They employ a large number of people to keep an eye on patrons and prevent cheating or other problems. On the floor, dealers watch each other closely and can spot blatant cheating. Pit bosses and table managers watch the action from a higher vantage point, looking for signs that someone is palming or marking cards or throwing dice.

Casinos make money by charging a “vig” or “rake” on each bet placed by players. The vig can be as low as two percent of the total amount wagered. That edge, combined with the millions of bets, makes casinos a profitable enterprise. Casinos also make money by giving out complimentary goods and services to “good” players, such as free hotel rooms, dinners, shows and limo service.