What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment where patrons can gamble by playing games of chance. Casinos are found all over the world and are a major source of income for their owners. They are often themed and feature elaborate fountains, statues, pyramids, towers and replicas of famous landmarks.

Although gambling probably existed as early as ancient times, the modern casino as an institution offering a variety of ways to gamble under one roof didn’t appear until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian aristocrats held private parties at facilities known as ridotti [Source: Schwartz]. These casinos were not technically legal, but the police rarely interfered with them because of the high level of society involved.

Casinos earn their money by charging a percentage of the bets placed on their machines or tables to the players, called the house edge. This can be as low as two percent or higher, depending on the games offered and the rules established by the casino. In addition, casinos make money by taking a cut of all winning bets on some games or by charging an hourly fee for use of a table. Given the large amount of cash handled within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently; most casinos have security measures in place to deter this behavior. Those who gamble frequently are sometimes given free goods or services, called comps, by the casino for their loyalty. These can include everything from a complimentary hotel room to dinner, tickets to shows and even airline and limo service for big spenders.