What Is a Casino?


A casino (or casino, from Latin kasino) is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of games of chance and skill. Casinos are also known for hosting live entertainment events, including musical performances and stand-up comedy. Casinos can be found worldwide, and are often combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shops, and cruise ships. They can be owned by individuals, corporations, investors, or Native American tribes, and operate as standalone facilities or within a larger tourist complex.

Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice among the earliest archaeological finds, but casinos as places where people could find many different ways to gamble under one roof didn’t appear until the 16th century, during a gambling craze that swept Europe. Wealthy Italian aristocrats held private parties in rooms called ridotti, where they could enjoy cards, horse races, and other popular activities legally, while avoiding the watchful eye of church officials.

Modern casino gambling centers around table games, such as blackjack and roulette, and slot machines. Guests can wager money or tokens and win cash, merchandise, or even free hotel stays and meals. A percentage of the bets made by patrons is taken by the house, or “house edge,” which guarantees that the casino will make a profit over time.

Some states, such as Nevada, legalized casino gambling in the early 1990s. Others, such as Iowa and New Jersey, followed suit and opened riverboat and land-based casinos. Casinos bring in billions of dollars each year for the companies, investors, and tribes that run them. But critics argue that they wreak havoc on communities by drawing away spending from other forms of local entertainment and causing problems for compulsive gamblers.