What is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment that offers various games of chance and has a high house edge, which means the casino expects to make a gross profit from the games played. The games include slot machines, blackjack, roulette and baccarat. Casinos also have other amenities, such as restaurants, bars and retail spaces. They are primarily located in tourist destinations such as Las Vegas, Macau and Monaco.

The casino industry is an enormous enterprise, generating billions in annual profits and drawing visitors from around the world. While musical shows, lighted fountains and themed hotels help casinos attract customers, the profits really come from gambling. Slot machines, poker, baccarat and other table games provide the billions in revenue that makes up the vast majority of a casino’s earnings.

Gambling has existed in one form or another since prehistoric times, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found in the oldest archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. The modern casino evolved in Europe in the 16th century during a gambling craze that saw European nobles gather at private clubs called ridotti to gamble and socialize. The name casino likely stems from the Italian city of Casin, which was home to the first casino in modern history.

The mafia ran many of the early casinos in Reno and Las Vegas, but as legalized gambling spread across America in the 1950s and 1960s, legitimate businessmen with deep pockets bought out the mob and moved into the business. Real estate investors and hotel chains now run the majority of Nevada’s casinos, and mob money has no bearing on the gaming operations as federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a license at even the faintest hint of mafia involvement keep the mob out of casinos.