What Is a Casino?

A casino is a facility for certain types of gambling. Many casinos combine gambling with other entertainment activities, such as shows, restaurants, or shopping. Some are owned by local governments, while others are operated by national or international chains. In the United States, state-licensed casinos may be located in cities or towns that have legalized gambling or on American Indian reservations. Casinos often offer a variety of games, including roulette, blackjack, craps, and video poker. Most of these games have mathematically determined odds that guarantee the house a profit, even in the long run. The percentage of funds returned to players is known as the payout.

A modern casino is like an indoor amusement park for adults, with the vast majority of its profits coming from gambling. Musical shows, lighted fountains, and lavish hotels all help to attract customers, but the money comes from games of chance like slot machines, poker, baccarat, and the ever-popular blackjack.

The precise origins of casino gambling are unknown, but it is generally believed that in some form it has been a part of human culture throughout history. The ancient Mesopotamians played a similar game called hazard, and the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Elizabethan England all had forms of lottery-like gambling. In the United States, modern casinos began appearing in Atlantic City in 1978, and after that they spread to other states. During the 1980s, some American Indian tribes opened casinos, on reservation land that was exempt from state antigambling laws.