What Is a Casino?


A casino, or gambling house, is a building where people can play games of chance. Some casinos offer luxury amenities, including restaurants, free drinks, and stage shows. Others are more straightforward, offering a variety of table games and slot machines. Casinos are located in cities and states across the world. They can be found in a wide range of settings, from urban centers to scenic landscapes.

Though gambling probably predates recorded history, the modern casino as a place to find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century during a European gambling craze. It started in Italy, where wealthy aristocrats would meet for social occasions in small clubhouses called ridotti. These were often private and off-limits to legal authorities, so they could operate without interference from the Inquisition.

While casinos provide entertainment and jobs, they are also responsible for a significant drain on local economies. Studies show that casino revenue shifts spending away from other forms of entertainment and lowers property values in nearby neighborhoods. In addition, the high cost of treating compulsive gamblers and the lost productivity of those addicted to gambling more than offset any economic gains.

Casinos make money by taking a percentage of bettors’ winnings, or “vig.” The amount varies by game, but the overall average is about two percent. It’s not enough to bankrupt a player in one session, but over the long term it makes the house a profit.