What Is a Casino?


A casino is a place where gambling activities take place. In addition to the usual games of chance (slot machines, blackjack, craps, keno, roulette, poker and other card games), some casinos offer theaters, restaurants, dazzling light shows, shopping centers and hotels with impressive designs.

The concept of casinos has changed over time, with modern ones offering a wide range of entertainment, including musical and stage shows, lighted fountains, elaborate hotel designs, themed restaurants and shops. However, the main draw for most casino patrons remains the gambling itself. Casinos earn the billions of dollars they rake in every year by taking advantage of people’s innate desire to win. Each game has a built-in statistical edge for the casino, which can be as low as two percent, but that little advantage adds up over millions of bets.

Gambling has been a part of human culture for millennia. Evidence of simple dice games dates back to 2300 BC, and playing cards became popular in Europe in the 1400s. But the modern casino, with its sexy lights, elaborate hotels and sophisticated gaming, is a relatively recent phenomenon.

The first modern casinos were run by gangsters with deep pockets and the means to pay for protection from government crackdowns. Later, real estate investors and hotel chains bought out the mobster interests and began to control the business. However, many critics argue that the costs of casino gambling – especially compulsive gambling – often outweigh any economic benefits.