What Is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Casinos are like indoor amusement parks for adults and generate billions of dollars in profit annually from slot machines, black jack, roulette, craps and other games. While other activities are also offered, such as dining and live entertainment, they all revolve around gambling.

Modern casinos owe much of their profitability to slot machines and other electronic gaming devices that provide a high return on investment. The average return on a slot machine is 96%. While other casino games, such as baccarat and blackjack, have their place, most of the action is found at slots and video poker.

Despite the popularity of these games, a casino still has to deal with cheaters and thieves. Security personnel spend a significant amount of time and money monitoring the games to spot suspicious patterns and behaviors. They are aided by cameras in the ceiling that can track every table, change window and doorway at a glance.

Although gambling probably predates recorded history, the casino as a central hub for various games did not evolve until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. In Italy, aristocrats held private parties at venues called ridotti [Source: Schwartz]. As the gambling bug spread across Europe, these small clubhouses became more widespread and were eventually licensed by local governments to conduct legal gambling. Mob money was instrumental in getting Reno and Las Vegas off the ground, but federal crackdowns on extortion, bootlegging and other criminal activities soon eliminated mob control of casinos. Real estate investors and hotel chains saw that they could make more money than the mobsters by running legitimate casino businesses without the taint of organized crime.