What is a Casino?

A casino is a place where you can play games of chance. Modern casinos look like indoor amusement parks for adults, complete with musical shows and lighted fountains. But they would not exist without the billions of dollars that gamblers pump into them each year. Games of chance, such as slot machines, blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps, provide the vast majority of the revenues that casinos generate worldwide.

Many casinos attract tourists by offering perks such as discounted travel packages and free show tickets. These are called “comps.” A casino’s goal is to get people in and keep them gambling as long as possible. Casinos also focus on security.

In the United States, the most famous and luxurious casinos are in Las Vegas. Some of these are owned and operated by major hotel chains. Others are financed by organized crime. Mobster money helped casinos grow during the 1950s, but they lacked the cachet of legitimate business and were saddled with a seamy image. The result was that legitimate businessmen were reluctant to become involved.

The word casino derives from a Latin word meaning “public hall.” The first modern casinos appeared in the second half of the 19th century and were often combined with hotels, restaurants and retail shops. Most of the world’s casinos are located in Europe and Asia, with a few in the Caribbean and South America. Many of these casinos specialize in traditional Far Eastern games such as sic bo, fan-tan and pai gow.