What Is a Casino?


A casino, also known as a gambling house or gaming establishment, is an establishment where people can gamble on various games of chance. Some casinos are standalone facilities, while others are part of hotels or resorts. People who visit casinos to gamble often receive complimentary items or comps, such as food and beverages, hotel rooms, shows or limo service. Casinos make money by taking bets on games of chance that are not skill-based, such as roulette, blackjack, poker and slot machines.

Casinos are operated by a variety of businesses, including private individuals, large companies and Native American tribes. They provide a variety of entertainment options, such as musical shows and lighted fountains. But the vast majority of their profits come from gambling. Slot machines, keno, craps and roulette bring in billions of dollars in revenue each year. The edge that the casino has over the players in these games is small — usually less than two percent — but it adds up over millions of visits.

The origins of the modern casino date back to the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. The word casino comes from the Latin casin, meaning “house.” During this period, wealthy Italian aristocrats held private parties at places called ridotti, where they could gamble without being bothered by legal authorities.

Today’s casinos employ a variety of technological measures to ensure the fairness of their games. Video cameras monitor players, and specialized chips with built-in microcircuitry allow the casino to track bets minute by minute and discover any abnormalities. Roulette wheels are electronically monitored to determine whether they are deviating from their expected results. The routines and habits of patrons are also observed, as they place bets on tables, shake hands with dealers, shuffle cards and roll dice. The security staff is trained to spot suspicious activity, such as a sudden change in betting patterns.

In addition to the many games of chance, some casinos offer sports wagering and horse racing. They also have restaurants, night clubs and shopping centers. Casinos are popular destinations for tourists and business travelers. They are often located near airports and seaports, as well as resorts and tourist attractions. In the United States, the most famous casino is the Las Vegas Strip. It is home to the largest concentration of hotel-casinos in the world, with more than 60. Many of these casinos are owned by large corporations, such as real estate developers and hotel chains. A few are owned by celebrities and people with deep pockets, such as Donald Trump and the Hilton hotel chain. Others are operated by local governments or Native American tribes. In the latter case, the revenues are used to support public services. In addition, some casinos are operated by private individuals and families. These casinos are sometimes referred to as “private” or “resort” casinos. A smaller number are run by charitable or religious organizations. The term casino may also be used to refer to a public gambling house in other countries.