What Is a Casino?


A casino is a place where people gamble and play games of chance. Casinos have a wide variety of games, from slots and video poker to table games like blackjack and roulette. Casinos also have entertainment options, such as stage shows and dramatic scenery. Casinos typically have a large staff of security personnel to prevent crime.

Gambling likely predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice among the earliest archaeological findings. The modern casino as a gathering place for multiple forms of gambling probably began in the 16th century, with the emergence of Italian aristocratic clubs called ridotti. These social clubs offered various activities and gambling, and were often combined with restaurants, hotels, and transportation hubs to attract patrons.

The economic mainstay of most casinos is the money earned from the sale of gaming machines and video poker machines. These machines require little skill to operate and provide an almost uniformly negative expected value for players, often referred to as the house edge. Casinos earn their profit by taking a percentage of the money wagered or charging an hourly fee to play.

While casinos bring in a lot of money, they can also have a negative impact on local communities. Studies show that compulsive gamblers divert spending from other forms of local entertainment and hurt property values. This, combined with the cost of treating problem gamblers and lost productivity due to gambling addiction, generally cancels out any economic benefits that casinos may have.