What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment that offers games of chance. These games may include slots, baccarat, poker, craps and keno. These games are usually played against the house, not other patrons. The casino makes money by charging a commission, known as the “vig” or rake, on bets placed by players. The vig can be lower than two percent, but over time it adds up to substantial profits for casinos. Casinos also give away free goods or services, called comps, to regular players.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found in some of the world’s oldest archaeological sites. However, the concept of a facility where people could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian nobles used rooms known as ridotti to host parties during which they would place bets [Source: Schwartz].

Today’s casinos are large and elaborate. They feature restaurants, nightclubs and shopping areas as well as a wide selection of gambling activities. They can be found in cities, resorts and even on cruise ships. Many states have legalized casinos, especially in Nevada and New Jersey, as well as on American Indian reservations.

There are more than 3,000 casino gaming operations in the United States, with the largest concentration in Las Vegas. Other major casino centers are Atlantic City, New Jersey; Detroit; Chicago; and Reno, Nevada. In addition to traditional casino games, some states have legalized sports betting.