What Is a Casino?


A casino, sometimes known as a gambling house or gaming hall, is an establishment where people can gamble. Some casinos also offer other forms of entertainment, such as concerts, shows or dining. Casinos are most often built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and other tourist attractions. They can be found in the United States and throughout the world. Some casinos, such as those in Las Vegas, feature multiple buildings with different gambling activities.

Casinos would not exist without games of chance, which generate billions in profits each year for their owners. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, baccarat, craps and keno are the major games that make up most of a modern casino’s income. Craps is especially popular in American casinos, where the advantage is kept low to entice large bettors; while roulette is most common in Europe and is played by smaller bettors at lower odds (with casinos taking only about 1 percent).

While the precise origin of casino gambling is unknown, it is believed that betting on chance-based games predates written history. In fact, primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice have been found in archaeological digs. However, the casino as a place to find a wide range of games under one roof did not develop until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept through Italy. Italian aristocrats met for parties at private venues called ridotti to avoid the scourge of the Inquisition.

As the casino business grew, organized crime moguls took an interest in Reno and Las Vegas. Using the money from their drug dealing, extortion and other illegal rackets, they bought sole or partial ownership of several casinos. Today, federal crackdowns on mob ties and the ability to lose a license at the slightest hint of Mafia involvement help keep legitimate businessmen away from casino operations.