What is a Casino?

A Casino is a place that houses gambling activities and often includes restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and other entertainment. It can be as small as a single table or a massive complex of games that rivals a city in size. Some casinos specialize in inventing new games to lure more players and others are famous for their opulent decorations that include fountains, giant pyramids, towers and replicas of famous landmarks.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice being found at archaeological sites. However, the casino as a place where people could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century. The word itself derives from the Italian “ridotto,” a private clubhouse where Italian aristocrats would gather for social gatherings during a gambling craze in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Most modern casinos make money by establishing an edge for their house, which can be as low as two percent. This edge is used to pay for the buildings, staff and other amenities that casinos offer their patrons. Other profits come from the vig or rake on slot machines and a fee that is charged to each player at card games.

Mobster cash flooded casinos in Reno and Las Vegas, but federal crackdowns and the fear of losing a gaming license at even the slightest hint of mob involvement forced organized crime to pull back. Then real estate developers, hotel chains and other legitimate businesses realized how much money they could make from casinos. They bought out the mobsters and now the largest casinos are sprawling resorts complete with shopping malls, theaters, restaurants and other non-gambling attractions.