What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a wide variety of games of chance to its patrons. It is usually a luxurious place with top-notch hotels, spas and restaurants along with stage shows and dramatic scenery. But it is possible for less lavish places to house gambling activities and still be called casinos.

As with any business, the goal of a casino is to make money. The more people play and the longer they stay, the more profit a casino makes. To maximize profits, casinos employ a host of tricks to encourage players to gamble more often and to spend their money for longer periods of time. These include free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery. But it is also important for a casino to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for its guests.

Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, and the modern casino was born out of a need for legitimate businessmen to attract gamblers. Mob money flowed steadily into Las Vegas during the 1950s, and mobster-linked managers took sole or partial ownership of casinos. They also controlled the rules of the games, tipped dealers and other staffers, and sometimes rigged the machines to their own advantage. This intricate web of corruption and greed is depicted in Martin Scorsese’s Casino, a movie that’s much more than just a story about mafia control of the desert city. It’s an epic history lesson in how a town grew from a small desert enclave to the world’s most famous gaming destination.