What Is a Casino?


A casino, also known as a gambling house, is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Casinos are often built near or combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships, and other tourist attractions. Some casinos are operated by government-licensed organizations. Others are operated by private businesses. Some are stand-alone buildings; others are located within other facilities, such as entertainment venues or sports arenas. In the United States, a large percentage of casinos are located in Nevada, where the legal gambling age is 21. Other major gambling centers include Atlantic City, New Jersey; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Reno, Nevada. In Canada, casinos are regulated by the provincial governments.

Although gambling probably predates written history, the modern casino began to develop in the 16th century. The term is derived from the Italian word for “public house,” but the concept didn’t take off until a gambling craze swept Europe in that period. Italian nobles would gather at places called ridotti to enjoy each other’s company and gamble.

Because of the high amounts of money handled in a casino, both patrons and employees may be tempted to cheat or steal. Various security measures are used to prevent this, including surveillance cameras and secure entrances. In addition, most casinos employ gaming mathematicians to design games with a built in statistical advantage for the casino.

A player’s winnings are based on the ratio of his or her total bets to the house’s total bets. The higher this ratio, the more likely a casino is to make a profit. In order to minimize the risk of losing money, a prudent player will place bets with the highest expected return and avoid chasing losses.