What Is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment where gambling takes place. It may also have restaurants, bars and other entertainment options. Casinos are often built near or combined with hotels, resorts, cruise ships and other tourist attractions.

Although a casino might add other attractions to draw in gamblers, it would not exist without the games of chance. Slot machines and table games like blackjack, roulette and craps provide the billions of dollars in profits that casinos bring in every year.

Though gaming has probably existed for as long as humans have inhabited the planet, it took until the 16th century to create the casino as we know it today. This was during a gambling craze that swept Europe, with Italian aristocrats meeting in private clubs known as ridotti [Source: Schwartz]. The closing of large public gambling houses forced the gentry to meet in smaller clubhouses where the focus could remain on gambling and other pleasures.

Today’s casinos are much more elaborate than their ancestors, but they still have the same basic structure. Most feature floor games, table games and a wide range of slot machines in different themes from Ancient Rome to space. A few offer far more exotic game options, including sic bo (a popular Chinese game), fan-tan and pai gow poker.

Gambling is legal in most states, and casinos are designed to make money by drawing people from outside the area to spend their money there. Many casinos rely on comps to attract these visitors, offering free hotel rooms, meals and tickets to shows for big spenders. In addition, most major casinos have loyalty programs that allow players to earn points for the amount of money they spend on games.