What is a Casino?

What is a Casino?


A casino is a public place where people gamble and play games of chance. Casinos offer a wide variety of gambling games and amenities, including restaurants, bars, live entertainment, and top-notch hotels. Some casinos also have a spa and other luxurious features. Some states have legalized casino gambling, while others have prohibited it or limit it to certain types of gambling.

Casinos make money by charging a commission on bets placed on table games and slot machines, or by a flat fee called the rake on poker tables. Most games have a built in house advantage, which can be quite small (less than two percent) but over time and millions of bets can add up to a significant sum. Casinos make the most profit on games with an element of skill, such as baccarat, blackjack, and trente et quarante in France.

Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in the oldest archaeological sites. But the concept of a dedicated gambling venue did not emerge until the 16th century when a gaming craze swept Europe and wealthy Italian aristocrats formed private clubs called ridotti to indulge in their favorite pastime.

The Mafia financed many of these clubs and soon began to take over the casinos, but federal crackdowns on mob influence and the threat of losing their gaming license at the slightest hint of mob involvement forced them out. Real estate investors and hotel chains with deeper pockets bought up the mob holdings and turned casinos into cash cows.