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What Is a Casino?

What Is a Casino?


A casino is a place where gambling takes place. While musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate themes are designed to draw in patrons, casinos would not exist without the games of chance that provide the billions of dollars in profits they rake in every year. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno are among the most popular casino games.

While some historians believe that gambling in some form existed as early as ancient Mesopotamia, the first modern casino opened in Monte-Carlo in 1863. Since then, casino-type establishments have become a major source of entertainment and a significant economic driver worldwide. While many people travel the globe hoping to visit a casino, others stumble upon them accidentally.

The casino’s primary goal is to make its patrons feel that they are enjoying themselves and that time passes slowly. As such, its decor usually reflects an expensive taste and lighting is kept dim to reduce the perception of time. Some casinos also minimize the noise level to prevent distractions.

Casinos have a darker side as well, of course. They attract organized crime figures looking for funds for their drug dealing, extortion and other rackets. In the 1950s, mobster money helped finance the massive expansion of casinos in Las Vegas. In some cases, the mob took sole or partial ownership of casinos and controlled their operations.

While the casino has become synonymous with glitz and glamour, it has its roots in the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats held social gatherings in small clubhouses called ridotti where gambling was the main attraction. Over the years, the concept of the casino grew and expanded, becoming more sophisticated and incorporating many other forms of entertainment beyond the games themselves. Today, large casinos offer a mind-boggling array of gaming options and often include hotels, restaurants, non-gambling games and other attractions.