What Is a Casino?


A casino is a place where gambling activities take place. It features games of chance and often adds other luxuries like restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. Casinos are regulated by laws in the countries where they operate.

While gambling is probably the world’s oldest activity, casinos did not develop as a collection of gaming rooms until the 16th century, when a gambling craze in Europe was on the rise. At that time, Italian aristocrats would host private parties at venues called ridotti, where they could play their favorite games of chance.

Mafia money flowed steadily into Reno and Las Vegas in the 1950s, and mobsters took over ownership of many casinos. The mob also influenced game outcomes through bribery and intimidation of casino staff. Eventually, legitimate businessmen with deep pockets bought out the gangsters. The Hilton hotel chain, for example, owned several casinos. In the 1980s, state laws changed to permit more types of casinos and some began appearing on American Indian reservations, which are not subject to federal antigambling laws.

The modern casino has evolved into full-blown resorts, with hotels and restaurants and nongambling entertainment options. Some have even added golf courses and spas to draw families. Those who are frequent visitors to casinos can earn comps, which are free goods and services such as hotel rooms, restaurant meals or tickets to shows. The exact amount depends on how much a player gambles and how long they spend at the tables or slot machines.