What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that houses various games of chance and where the primary activity is wagering money. Casinos add a variety of luxuries to attract players, including restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery. Historically, casinos were places where common gamblers could risk their money against each other, but in the 21st century they have become more like resort destinations that offer many types of entertainment in addition to gambling.

A large part of a casino’s earnings comes from the house edge, which is built into every game. This advantage can be very small, but it is sufficient to cover the costs of a casino and pay for its extravagant decor and attractions. The house edge can be reduced by using skillful strategy in card games, but even the most skilled player cannot overcome the statistical advantage that the casino has over him.

Because of the enormous amounts of currency handled within a casino, patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat and steal. To prevent this, most casinos have a variety of security measures in place, from cameras to strict rules of conduct.

In the 1950s, when casino gambling first appeared in Reno and Las Vegas, organized crime families supplied much of the initial capital. The mobsters wanted to be more than mere bankrollers, however, and bought up substantial stakes in some casinos. With federal crackdowns on mob involvement in gambling, legitimate businessmen soon realized the potential profits of the industry and began buying out the mobsters.