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What Is a Casino?

What Is a Casino?


A casino, or gaming establishment, is a place where people gamble by playing games of chance, and sometimes skill. Casinos may also offer complimentary items to players, such as food and drinks, or even rooms and free airfare if they’re big enough bettors. This is known as comping. Casinos are often extravagantly outfitted and have elaborate architecture, lighting, and stage shows.

Although gambling probably existed as long as humans have been around, the modern casino as we know it evolved in the 16th century. That’s when a gambling craze swept Europe, and wealthy Italian nobles would hold parties in private spaces called ridotti that were technically illegal but were rarely bothered by the authorities.

Today, casinos operate all over the world, from glamorous Las Vegas to the illegal pai gow parlors of New York’s Chinatown. Almost every game in a casino has a built-in statistical advantage for the house, and over time this edge earns casinos enormous profits. This is a key reason why most states prohibit casinos within their borders.

Casinos have a variety of revenue streams, but the biggest are from slot machines and table games. They’re a major source of income for American cities and towns, and some are huge, like the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, which covers 340,000 square feet with thousands of slots and tables. The most popular games are blackjack, craps, and video poker. Some casinos also feature traditional Far Eastern games such as sic bo, fan-tan, and pai gow.