What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment that offers various types of gambling. In addition to a wide variety of gambling games, some casinos also feature restaurants, retail shops, and even live entertainment. Often, they are located in or combined with hotels, resorts, or cruise ships. In the United States, a casino is a place where gambling is legal.

While the idea of a place that houses various forms of gambling dates back to the 16th century, the modern casino as we know it was introduced in Atlantic City in 1978. In the 1980s, American Indian reservations began opening their doors to casinos, as well. Today, casinos can be found worldwide.

The modern casino is a high-tech facility with a strong emphasis on customer service. Patrons gamble on tables and slot machines, and may be served complimentary drinks and food by staff. Many casinos have stage shows and dramatic scenery designed to add glamour and excitement to the gambling experience. Casinos often offer perks to encourage gambling, such as discounted hotel rooms and free show tickets.

In the United States, about 51 million people—a quarter of those over age 21—visited a casino in 2002. These figures are not hard to believe: From the glittering Vegas strip to illegal pai gow parlors in New York’s Chinatown, gamblers can find just about any setting and game they want, and many have been lured by promises of wealth and celebrity. But a casino isn’t just an upscale entertainment complex; it is a business with built-in advantages that ensure the house always wins.