What Is a Casino?


The term casino is used to describe any place where gambling is a primary activity. Casinos can be found around the world and feature a variety of games, including slot machines, table games, and card games. Many casinos also offer dining, entertainment and hotel facilities.

While gambling almost certainly predates recorded history (with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice appearing in archaeological digs), the modern idea of a casino as a place for people to find all types of ways to gamble under one roof didn’t emerge until the 16th century during a gambling craze that swept Europe. Italian aristocrats would host parties at private venues called ridotti where they could play their favorite games while sipping cocktails and savoring hors d’oeuvres.

Regardless of how much is won or lost at the tables and slots, every game has a built in mathematical advantage for the house. That advantage can be very small, sometimes less than two percent, but it adds up over the millions of bets placed and gives casinos enough money to build spectacular hotels, fountains, pyramids, towers and replicas of famous landmarks.

But a casino doesn’t need to be flashy to attract customers. The most popular casino game, by far, is the slot machine, which requires only putting in some money and pulling or pushing a lever or button. And that simplicity is part of the appeal, helping slots and video poker earn more than a quarter of all casino income.