What Is a Casino?



A casino is a facility where people can play gambling games. Some casinos are operated by governments, while others are private enterprises. Regardless of ownership, all casinos offer the same basic services: a place to gamble and drink alcohol. Some casinos specialize in certain games, such as baccarat or roulette. Others have a wide range of games, including blackjack, craps, and poker.

Casinos are usually located in cities or large towns and are accessible by road, rail, air, or bus. Some larger casino resorts contain restaurants, hotels, shopping areas, and entertainment venues. Some have special facilities for conference and convention activities. Most casinos have a gaming floor with dozens of tables and hundreds of slot machines. Some also have sports books and race tracks. Most have security staff in full uniforms to ensure the safety of patrons.

While gambling certainly predates recorded history, the casino as a place where people could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century. Until then, gambling was generally illegal. Italian aristocrats would meet in private parties at their homes or in specially built structures called ridotti to enjoy their favorite pastimes.

The casino business was originally run by organized crime, which had plenty of cash from extortion and other illegal rackets to fund their gambling operations. Unlike legitimate businesses, mobster-owned casinos did not have to worry about public relations or federal anti-racketeering laws. As the business grew, however, real estate investors and hotel chains realized the potential of the business and bought out mob ownership. Eventually, the mob lost interest in the casinos as its other lucrative enterprises (real estate, oil and arms) grew more profitable.