What is a Casino?


A casino is a place where people can gamble on games of chance. The word casino is French for “place of games,” but it evolved to mean a particular type of gambling house. Modern casinos add a host of luxuries to the mix to attract customers, but they still depend on games of chance for most of their profits. Slot machines, roulette, blackjack, baccarat and other table games, along with craps and keno, bring in billions of dollars each year.

While some gambling games involve skill, most are purely chance, and the house always has an advantage, known as the house edge. In addition to the advantage from these games, casinos make money from complimentary items or comps given to frequent players. These may include free hotel rooms, meals, show tickets and limo service. Players can also earn points in casino loyalty programs and receive free play at their favorite tables.

Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved knuckle bones appearing in archaeological digs, but the modern casino as a central hub for different types of gambling did not emerge until the 16th century. It was at this time that casinos began to develop in Europe, as a result of a casino craze. They were originally small clubs for Italian aristocrats, called ridotti, who would meet and gamble in private.

Today, the majority of casinos are located in Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey. However, Chicago has several licensed riverboat casinos on the lakefront, and Iowa legalized gambling on its Native American reservations in the 1990s. The mob used to control many casinos, but federal crackdowns and the risk of losing a license if there was even the slightest hint of mob involvement have made casinos less susceptible to mob interference.