What is a Casino?


A Casino is a building in which people can gamble and play games of chance. While entertainment shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and lavish hotels help attract patrons, casinos would not exist without the games of chance that provide the billions of dollars in profits raked in every year. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and other games of chance make up the majority of the business at casinos.

While gambling likely predates recorded history, the modern casino as a place where people could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats would often meet in private clubs known as ridotti to gamble and socialize. While technically illegal, the ridotti were rarely bothered by authorities.

Casinos in America grew rapidly during the 1980s and 1990s as states amended antigambling statutes to allow them. American Indian reservations also began opening casinos, many of which are exempt from state antigambling laws.

Today, casinos rely on electronic technology to keep track of customers, games and betting. Video cameras monitor patrons, and computers run the odds on most games. The house always has an advantage in casino gambling, but the extent of that edge varies by game. In poker, for example, the casino takes a rake, or percentage of each pot, from each player. Casinos also offer free goods and services to “good” players, or comps, depending on the amount of money they spend.