What Is a Casino?


A casino, also called a gaming house, is an establishment for certain types of gambling. It may be a standalone building or part of a larger hotel, resort, or tourist attraction. In addition to games of chance, some casinos also offer sports betting and horse racing. Many states have laws regulating the operations of casinos. Some casinos are operated by Native American tribes. Others are located on reservations or in other states outside of the United States.

Gambling has existed since prehistoric times, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in some of the world’s oldest archaeological sites. But the modern casino, with its plethora of table games and slot machines, did not appear until the 16th century, when a gambling craze spread across Europe and nobles would hold private parties at places called ridotti [Source: Schwartz].

While some casinos are simply buildings, others feature elaborate hotels, restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. Some are themed with fountains, giant pyramids, towers, or replicas of famous landmarks. Most casinos are designed to attract gamblers and keep them coming back by offering five-star experiences, such as free drinks, luxury suites, clubs, and concerts.

Because large amounts of money are handled within casinos, both patrons and staff can be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion with each other or independently. This is why most casinos employ security measures such as cameras that monitor the entire facility. In some cases, casino security personnel can look directly down through one-way glass on activities at individual tables and slot machines.