What is a Casino?


A casino (or gambling house, in Spanish) is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Modern casinos often combine gaming with hotels, restaurants, retail shops and other tourist attractions. Some casinos are famous and attract many visitors from around the world. Some, like the Las Vegas Strip, have become entertainment meccas with giant hotels, spectacular fountains, towering replicas of landmarks and a seemingly endless selection of games.

While there are a number of factors that make a casino successful, the vast majority of the profits are made from the gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette and other table games, all of which require some element of chance, account for the billions that casinos rake in each year.

Gambling may predate recorded history, with primitive prototypes such as knuckle bones and carved six-sided dice found in archaeological sites, but the casino as an entity that collected multiple forms of gambling under one roof began to appear in the 16th century, when the popularity of games such as chemin de fer, baccarat and trente et quarante was rising.

While legitimate businessmen were reluctant to invest in casinos because of their seamy image, organized crime figures had plenty of cash from their drug dealing, extortion and other illegal rackets, and they soon realized the potential profits of a casino in Reno or Las Vegas. The mob controlled the banks, and even took sole or partial ownership of some casinos. Today, casinos are often owned by large corporations that also operate hotel chains and other tourism related businesses. They depend on a combination of physical security forces and specialized surveillance departments to prevent criminal activity.