What is a Casino?

A casino, also known as a gambling house or a gaming room, is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Casinos are most often found in hotels and resorts, but can also be operated by cruise ships, retail shops, restaurants, and other businesses. Unlike lotteries and internet gambling, which are purely games of chance, casino games involve some element of skill. Players compete with each other or against the house. Casinos profit from patrons’ wagering activities by charging fees or commissions, known as vigorish and rake, and by offering comps (free goods or services).

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice appearing in archaeological sites. However, the casino as a place where people could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not emerge until the 16th century, with the rise of gambling crazes in Europe and Italy. Italian aristocrats held private parties in gambling houses called ridotti, which were tolerated by the Inquisition because they were technically not legal.

Modern casinos are generally large, fancy places with a wide range of games and entertainment options. In the United States, slot machines and video poker are the economic mainstays of most casinos. Combined with other fees and charges, they yield profits averaging around two percent per hour of play for high-volume gamblers. In addition to gambling, casinos offer a wide range of food and beverage options, and host concerts and shows by world-famous entertainers.