What is a Casino?

A casino is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. While gambling almost certainly predates recorded history — primitive proto-dice, carved knuckle bones and dice cups have been found at archaeological sites — the casino as an all-in-one destination for a range of betting activities didn’t appear until the 16th century. Italian aristocrats, who held private parties known as ridotti where they would play casino games, weren’t bothered by the fact that the activities were illegal [Source: Schwartz].

Today casinos are much more than just gambling halls. Many have hotels, restaurants, non-gambling games and even swimming pools and bars. The largest casinos are impressive in size and decor, with many featuring mindblowing numbers of gaming machines and tables.

The profits of a casino depend on the amount of money people bet on each game. Slot machines, which don’t require any skill, make up a large percentage of these revenues. Other popular games include blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps. Casinos can also earn a great deal of their income from the rake of compulsive gamblers, who bring in a greater proportion of profits than other players and tend to spend more money in a shorter period of time.

Mob money provided the initial funding for many casino operations, but legitimate businessmen soon realized how profitable casinos could be and bought out the mobsters. Federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a gambling license at even the slightest hint of mafia involvement keep mob influence out of the casino business today.