What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment, where patrons wager money or other property on various games of chance. Most of the time these games include roulette, blackjack and baccarat, but many casinos offer other types of gambling as well. Casinos are often located near hotels, restaurants and shopping centers. They also can be found on American Indian reservations and cruise ships. Casino gambling is a large industry that generates significant revenue for governments and private enterprises.

Gambling almost certainly predates written history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice among the earliest archaeological finds. However, the concept of a casino as a place for people to find all kinds of different ways to gamble under one roof did not emerge until the 16th century in Europe. Italian aristocrats held private social gatherings at places called ridotti during this period, and the popularity of these venues spread to other parts of the world.

Modern casinos are elaborate affairs, with themed buildings, restaurants and shops. But they would not exist without the games of chance that bring in billions of dollars for their owners every year. Slot machines, blackjack, poker, craps and keno make up the bulk of the revenue that casinos generate.

In America casinos are generally located in areas where the law allows them, and they attract tourists from all over the country. In addition to a variety of table and slot machines, casinos also feature live entertainment such as musical shows and comedy acts. Often these shows are free to patrons who have purchased tickets for other casino attractions, such as dinner and drinks.

Casinos also attract organized crime figures, who use them as fronts for illegal activities such as drug dealing and extortion. Mafia money helped to fuel the growth of Reno and Las Vegas in the 1950s, but mobster involvement in casinos tended to give them a seamy image that hurt their ability to draw legitimate businessmen.

Because of the enormous amounts of currency that are handled in a casino, both patrons and employees may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion with each other or independently. As a result, most casinos employ extensive security measures to deter these activities. These typically include cameras that monitor the entire casino floor, and some even have high-tech “eyes in the sky” that allow security personnel to watch every table, doorway and change window simultaneously.

Despite all these precautions, casinos still lose money from time to time. This is because the house always has a mathematical advantage over the players, and it is very rare for a casino to win more than it loses for an extended period of time. In order to offset these losses, casinos are often willing to offer big bettors lavish inducements such as free spectacular entertainment and luxury living quarters. This makes casinos more like an adult amusement park than a traditional gambling den.

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