What is a Casino?

A casino, or gaming house, is a place where people can gamble on games of chance. It may include slot machines, blackjack, poker, roulette and craps. Some casinos also feature stage shows, restaurants and retail shops. A casino may be located in a hotel, or it may be an independent facility. Some casinos are operated by private corporations, while others are owned by states, local governments or Native American tribes. Casinos bring in billions of dollars each year to the owners, operators and investors.

While gambling likely predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found at the world’s oldest archaeological sites, the modern casino as we know it didn’t appear until the 16th century in Europe during a gambling craze. At that time, wealthy Italians would hold private parties in small clubs called ridotti to enjoy a variety of gambling games. These places were technically illegal, but mobsters provided the money and often controlled operations to avoid the risk of prosecution [Source: Poley].

Modern casinos are designed to lure visitors with perks that encourage them to spend more than they plan to. Free drinks, show tickets and discounted travel packages all contribute to the revenue generated by casinos. Bright, gaudy colors are used to create an upbeat and exciting environment. The absence of windows and chiming clocks is meant to keep players gambling for hours without realizing how much time has passed. This strategy has been effective; people spend more money when they’re having fun.