What Is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Usually, casinos combine gambling with other tourist attractions or entertainment. Some casinos are located in cities known for their tourism potential, such as Las Vegas. Others are built near or combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shopping, and cruise ships. In some countries, casinos are legalized by government. In other countries, such as the United States, the legality of casinos is regulated by state law.

Gambling predates recorded history, with primitive proto-dice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice appearing in the earliest archaeological sites. However, the modern casino as a venue offering a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not appear until the 16th century, when a gaming craze swept Europe and wealthy Italian aristocrats held private parties called ridotti to indulge in their passion for gambling. These parties included a meal and drinks, but the primary activity was playing card games such as chemin de fer, blackjack and trente et quarante, and winning money from the house.

The popularity of casinos spread from Italy to France and then to the rest of Europe. In America, the first legal casinos appeared in Nevada and then Atlantic City, New Jersey. Iowa and other states amended their laws in the 1980s to permit riverboat casinos, and casinos soon opened on American Indian reservations, which were exempt from state antigambling statutes. Today, most casinos are large facilities that offer a wide range of betting options. Some use chips instead of real cash, which reduces the risk of theft and limits access to the patrons’ bank accounts; and electronic systems monitor and supervise the games minute-by-minute so that any statistical deviation can be quickly discovered.

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