What is a Casino?
A Casino, also known as a gaming house, is an establishment for gambling. It may be combined with hotels, restaurants and retail shops. Some casinos specialize in particular kinds of games, such as horse racing and poker. A casino might also offer a variety of other entertainment, such as live sports on large plasma TVs. Some casinos even have their own in-house theatre companies.
Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice – cut knuckle bones and carved six-sided dice – found in some of the oldest archaeological sites. But the idea of a central place where people could find a wide range of gambling activities under one roof didn’t take off until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian aristocrats gathered at private clubs called ridotti to play various games of chance.
The modern casino is like an indoor amusement park for adults, with the vast majority of the entertainment (and profits for the owner) coming from games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno provide the billions of dollars in profit that casinos rake in every year.
Casinos have long been a magnet for organized crime. Mobster money flowed steadily into Reno and Las Vegas, and mobster owners took sole or partial ownership of some casinos. But federal crackdowns on extortion and other illegal rackets helped legitimate businessmen wrest control of many casinos from their criminal cousins, and mob influence over casinos has since diminished.