What Is a Casino?


A casino, or gambling hall, is a place where people can gamble on games of chance. These games may include poker, roulette, craps, blackjack, and slot machines. Casinos are licensed and regulated by the state where they operate. They can be found in many places, from massive resorts to small card rooms. In some countries, casinos are even located in racetracks and on cruise ships.

Casinos generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, benefiting the owners, investors, and local governments that permit them. But some critics argue that the social costs of compulsive gambling offset any economic benefits. Furthermore, some studies suggest that local economies suffer from the displacement of entertainment spending by casino patrons.

To maximize their profits, casinos try to attract and retain high rollers by offering them free spectacular entertainment, reduced-fare transportation, luxurious living quarters, and other inducements. These are known as “comps.” In addition to these incentives, casino managers study mathematical expectancies and variance for each game offered. These calculations are typically performed by gaming mathematicians and analysts.

While many people associate casinos with Sin City, the concept of a casino is actually quite ancient. The word derives from the Italian “cassa,” meaning “house.” Gambling houses first appeared in Europe during the Middle Ages as small private clubs where members could meet to play cards and other games of chance. Some of these early institutions were run by the mob, but the growth of real estate investment firms and hotel chains allowed legitimate operators to out-compete the mobsters.