What Is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. The word is derived from the Latin cazino, which means “little tent.” Casinos feature games of chance such as blackjack, poker, craps, roulette, and baccarat. Some casinos also offer keno, bingo, and more. They may also serve food and drinks. Many casinos are located in resorts, hotels, or other tourist attractions. Some are independent; others are part of larger complexes that include restaurants, shopping, and other attractions.

Gambling likely predates written history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in archaeological digs, but the modern casino as an all-in-one entertainment venue did not develop until the 16th century, during a gambling craze in Europe. At that time, Italian aristocrats would hold private parties at facilities called ridotti, which were not only social gatherings but also places where they could play a variety of games of chance.

The modern casino is a large, noisy facility that uses music and lighting to create an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation. Waiters circulating the floor dispense free nonalcoholic drinks and snacks. Often, players shout encouragement to one another as they compete. Unlike other forms of gambling, which can be done alone or anonymously, most casino games are played in teams.

While musical shows, lighted fountains, and lavish hotels draw in the crowds, casinos wouldn’t exist without the billions of dollars that are generated by their games of chance. But casinos are not without their risks, particularly in terms of the financial impact of gambling addiction. Some studies show that compulsive gambling drains local economies by siphoning money away from other forms of entertainment and that the cost of treating problem gamblers more than offsets any economic gains a casino might generate.