What Is a Casino?

A casino is a facility where people can gamble on games of chance. In the United States, casinos are licensed and regulated by state governments. They rake in billions of dollars each year, benefiting private investors, local businesses and Native American tribes. A casino can be as large as a Las Vegas resort or as small as a card room.

While a variety of attractions (including musical shows, shopping centers and lavish hotels) may lure patrons, the bulk of a casino’s profits comes from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, keno and baccarat are some of the most popular casino games. Some of these are based on probability while others require skill. Most casinos offer multiple versions of each game to appeal to a wide range of players.

Although gambling predates recorded history, the modern casino as a place for people to find all sorts of ways to bet has its roots in the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. During that time, wealthy Italian nobles gathered to play at private clubs called ridotti, where they could enjoy food, drink and gaming in a setting free of legal hassles.

In the 21st century, casinos have become choosier about which players they accept. They concentrate on high rollers, whose bets are in the tens of thousands of dollars. To attract these high-stakes patrons, they offer them extravagant inducements, such as free spectacular entertainment, limousine transportation and luxury hotel rooms.